Rain repairs shift some pupils to middle school
August 30, 2003
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Sullivans Elementary School’s 1,400 students will start the fall term Tuesday, a week later than planned, thanks to the $700,000 pummeling a typhoon gave one of the school’s buildings.
Some students, administrators and secretaries will play “musical classrooms” for one to two months because the Aug. 9 storm weakened parts of a school roof, said Peter D. Grenier, chief of staff for Japan District Department of Defense Dependents Schools.
The good news, he said: The district has enough space to house the displaced pupils and enough extra days in its planned calendar so that the school year won’t have to be extended.
All pupils in Sullivans’ kindergarten through fifth grades are to convene in the school courtyard by 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, read a notice in Yokosuka’s commissary entrance.
But 177 of those pupils, in eight of the 12 fifth-grade classes, will be housed in Yokosuka Middle School, Grenier said.
Yokosuka public works officials estimated repairs will take at least a month, said Bruce Derr, DODDS district superintendent for Japan — and those still in the water-damaged building all will be in first-floor classrooms.
Most initial cleanup has been completed, and the school will have been given a safety inspection before Tuesday, he said.
Damage was estimated at $700,000, Grenier said. Sullivans’ roof was undergoing scheduled renovation when Typhoon Etau deluged Yokosuka with so much water that the main structure’s roof weakened in certain areas. Accumulated water destroyed ceiling tiles, carpets and educational materials in 26 classrooms on the second floor, stated an Aug. 21 DODDS-Japan news release. The second floor won’t be used until roof repairs are complete, Derr said.
Plus the eight classes to meet in the middle school, Grenier said, extra classrooms were created; Sullivans’ assistant principals began sharing office space, and the school’s secretaries gave up their lounge for the duration.
The 117 temporary new students won’t crowd the middle school, Grenier said: It “was built for an enrollment of 900. Today, Yokosuka Middle School has 715 students.” Even with the extra pupils, it will house 68 fewer children than its capacity.
Nor should classes have to be held longer next spring, Grenier said: The North Central Association, which accredits Sullivans, requires 180 days of classes per school year. “Our calendar was for 185 days,” he said, “plus we had a few other days built in.”