With just over three weeks until the first day of school — Rowe Massachusetts town officials, community members and parents are scrambling to figure out where the town’s kindergartners through sixth graders will be learning this year. The western Franklin County elementary school was destroyed by a fire after being hit by lightning this weekend.
Michael Buoniconti is the Superintendent of the Mohawk Trail Regional School District. He says Saturday’s blaze damaged the Rowe Elementary School’s roof, foyer and principal’s office. Buoniconti says the fire was so devastating that the whole school will need to be rebuilt.
“In rural regional districts such as where Mohawk and Hawlemont and Rowe are located — the local elementary school is typically the heart and soul of the community — so there’s a great sense of loss.”
But Buoniconti says the Mohawk Trail Regional District has experience recovering from natural disasters.
“Last fall when Tropical Storm Irene came through, it flooded Hawlemont Regional Elementary School. So we went through a process of needing to move that entire school into a neighboring school. The difference in that case was that was a shorter term. It ended up being a three month term. This time around given the devastation to the building we’re anticipating at least a two year time frame.”
Buoniconti says the district is considering three options for the school’s sixty-nine students. He says Rowe Elementary students will move to Hawlemont, Heath or Colrain Elementary School. Several informational meetings with local residents are in the works.