Springfield Intends to Rebuild Tornado Damaged School

The City of Springfied has announced it intends to replace a school heavily damaged during last year’s tornado, and hopes outside funding will pay for it. Brookings Elementary took a direct hit last June from the tornado that struck Springfield. Now the city hopes to give its students a brand new building. Mayor Domenic Sarno estimates it will cost between $20 to $30 million dollars to build a new Brookings Elementary School. Sarno says he is hopeful between seventy-five and ninety percent of the construction costs will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the rest paid for by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The city will formally present the plan to the Building Authority next month. Springfield would be responsible for any costs not funded by either agency. Sarno says a new school is necessary since it would be difficult to bring the current Brookings School up to code. [CUT: The old building is, I think upwards of ninety, eighty to ninety years old. You have D.E.S.E. (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) standards, new building codes, other square footage aspects there. So to us, it makes sense if you're going to spend millions and millions of dollars, it's to a new facility."

Standing outside modular classrooms which have been the temporary home for Brookings this school year, Principal Terry Powe says she is thrilled by the plan. She says the school community has been resilient in the aftermath of the storm's devastation. [CUT: "We are survivors, that's all I can say. The children have been great, the parents have been great. And we have really been adaptive. There's no other words to say, but we've just adapted to the situation and we're moving forward.]

Mayor Sarno says the city is looking at a site on Walnut Street for the new school. Construction could begin as soon as August, 2013.