Beech Grove schools to start year on schedule despite June tornado

BEECH GROVE, Ind. -- The clean up process won't stop Beech Grove City Schools from starting the 2019-2020 school year on time.

Students will return for a new year on Wednesday, July 31.

School officials have stayed busy over summer break after a F1 tornado ripped through the community on June 15. The district's high school suffered severe damage.

The district's assistant superintendent, Dr. Tom Keeley, who is in charge of business and personnel in the district, said the plan was always to start the year on time. On a daily basis, Keeley meets with a restoration company, a construction manager, an architect, along with seven school administrators to keep updated on the progress and to make sure the school year begins as scheduled.

In late June, crews were able to close the gap in the roof and begin removing water from the hallways and classrooms. Overall, 26 classrooms suffered damage. Keeley said 23 of them will be ready at the end of July.

Three science teachers will begin the new school year with carts and will not be able to use the Hornet Enrichment Academy. Repairs will continue through the first semester.

The roof above the academy was damaged to a point that an exterior wall moved and is now only staying upright due to the weight of the roof. That area will remain a construction zone, and the exterior wall will get knocked down and reconstructed.

Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley said the rest of the city has made significant improvements regarding clean up as well.

There are still no estimates to the overall damage, as the city is waiting to talk about assessing the entire city with the insurance company.

"I told them we’re not at the point where... we’re still assessing things," Buckley said. "Things pop up two, four weeks after the event. So, we just have to take our time and do it right."

Buckley said it was important to return to normal as soon as possible. He said holding the city's firework show Wednesday night was a that sign progress had been made over the last two and a half weeks.

Due to the storms, the Hornet Park Community Pantry saw its food supply run empty. The city is holding a food drive through July to replenish the shelves. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off at the Beech Grove Community Center, City Hall, and the senior center through the end of the month.

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