The Little Rock School District continues to work to repair several of its campuses that were damaged in last week’s winter storm. The entire district moved to virtual learning Monday and five campuses — Cloverdale Middle, Jefferson Elementary, Pulaski Heights Elementary, Pulaski Heights Middle and Watson Elementary — shifted to virtual learning all week.
Cloverdale, Jefferson and Watson should return to in-person learning next week, LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore said in a news conference Tuesday. “We’re making tremendous progress on those sites,” he said. But the damage was so severe at the Pulaski Heights campuses that Poore said he expects repairs to continue next week and perhaps the following week.
According the LRSD webpage, the Pulaski Heights Middle School building is 100 years old. The adjacent elementary school was built in 1927. Both campuses were renovated in 1972 and a shared media center was constructed in 2004.
The district is exploring whether other campuses could temporarily house in-person Pulaski Heights elementary and middle school students, who number between 500-550. Poore mentioned Hall High School, which is a large campus with low attendance in close proximity to Pulaski Heights, but he acknowledged that moving elementary and middle school students to a high school campus would be challenging.
The Pulaski Heights schools both lack running water and electricity. A pipe burst in a basement area where the boilers and electricity were housed and water rose waist deep, Poore said. The building’s wiring will have to be checked and double-checked.
Some of the delay in making repairs has to do with a shortage of supplies (an issue confronting homeowners seeking to repair their own busted pipes). It’s posed some strategic questions about what equipment to replace vs. repair, Poore said.
Poore didn’t have a cost estimate. The district’s insurance policy will cover the damage, but LRSD will be on the hook for a $100,000 deductible.
Other campuses that returned to in-person learning today also had issues. A burst pipe at Parkview High School potentially damaged the basketball court. And Hall High had several pipes burst.