Richmond County school district files insurance claim for storm damage

Half a million dollars.

That's the damage amount Richmond County school officials reported to their insurance provider Friday about a July 31 storm. Schools facilities director Benton Starks said that makes the storm the most costly to the system in the past two years.

The exact figure submitted was $503,000, "and we're still working on getting some totals in" from overtime worked by other school department workers, Starks said Friday.

Much of the cost was from flood damage to the floors of an old and new gym at Butler High School, both of which officials hope to replace. There also was some other flood damage to a music room at Butler and there was some lightning damage to electronic panels at other county schools.

Officials say it's still unclear why the July 31 downpour caused such flooding at Butler, although a clogged drain is suspected.

Starks said the last time a storm caused such destruction to the school system was in March 2008, when high winds blew roofs off some portables and caused $600,000 in damage.

Starks has said Butler basketball games, which start in a couple months, will be played in the old gym first while the new gym floor is replaced. When work is finished on the new gym, home games will switch to it while the floor of the old gym is replaced.

Starks said the latest damage estimate, although still in flux, was sent to the school system's insurance company Friday to move along the claims process so the system can get an official letter approving work to be done. The school system will have to pay a $100,000 deductible.

Starks said it could be late September or early October before replacement work gets started on the gym floors, but that process could be expedited if the school board gives emergency approval to do so.

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