Page and Peasley to share school building

Kim Robins - Posted on Apr 18, 2011 - 05:25 PM

Photo: A wing of Page Middle School was completely destroyed by a tornado that wreaked havoc on much of the community Saturday evening.

A wing of Page Middle School was completely destroyed by a tornado that wreaked havoc on much of the community Saturday evening.

Gloucester High School and all six county elementary schools will reopen to students tomorrow, but Peasley and Page Middle School students will have another day off.

On Wednesday and for the remainder of the school year, the 780 Peasley students and the 580 children displaced from Page will share the Peasley campus.

Gloucester School Board members approved the shared campus plan early Monday morning. School division superintendent Ben Kiser said he and his staff felt it was critical to keep the Page students together, and to keep the teachers with their children.

Under the new plan, Peasley students will attend school from 7:15 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. and the Page students will attend from 1 to 6:30 p.m. The Peasley students get the early shift due to their closer proximity to the campus.

Kiser said Peasley students should meet their school buses 30 minutes earlier than usual. Page students will be contacted by their individual bus drivers regarding pickup times. Page students who are not contacted by 2 p.m. Tuesday should call 693-2127 for information.

Kiser said lunch will be served to both shifts of students and breakfast will be available for the Peasley children.  The other county schools will continue to follow their regular schedules.

The middle school students usually attend school for six and a half hours daily. The new schedule will reduce their school day to five and a half hours. Teachers will still be expected to put in their usual seven and a half hours daily. Kiser said, even with the shortened 160-day school calendar, the middle schoolers will still receive the required hours of instruction.

Kiser said the staffs of both middle schools were asked to meet together at Peasley on Monday. On Tuesday, they will continue to work out details and prepare for the split schedule when students resume classes on Wednesday. “Our priority is to provide the core services,” Kiser said, adding that there may be some things the middle schoolers will have to do without.

School board members also met with their assigned claims adjuster early Monday morning. Russell M. Holt, owner of Piedmont Claims Services LLC, will be working with the school division staff on behalf of the Virginia Municipal League. Holt said the board had more than adequate insurance coverage. “Coverage is not going to be an issue for you,” he told the board.

Holt, who had not been to the Page site prior to meeting the board, said structural engineers will determine whether any of the school can be saved. He said the board’s insurance would cover the building, its inventory and damage to the property of others, the latter limited to $10,000 overall. Holt said it will also cover “the expenses of getting back to business as usual.”

The devastation at Page also included the loss of six school buses and damages to 13 more. Kiser said most of the totaled buses were high-mileage spares, and damage to the others was primarily due to windows being blown out. Holt said the insurance would compensate for the vehicles based on value, but school division finance director Joanne Wright said FEMA may also provide some compensation for the lost buses.

Kiser said he had received numerous requests to enter Page to retrieve personal property but he and the board agreed access should remain restricted for the present time.