A new estimate by the Berkeley Unified School District says the April 12 arson fire at the high school caused between $1.5 million and $2 million in damage – and that cost doesn’t include the money being spent on relocation efforts linked to the fire.
Still, BUSD and Berkeley High officials are attempting to put the best face forward on the entire ordeal, highlighting the way teachers, parents, students and staff have worked together to reopen the campus.
“I’m so proud of how well school and district staff stepped up to the plate to get the school back up and running,” Chris Lim, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, noted in a Friday news release. “We have been fortunate to have such great support to get our school ready.”
The original fire forced the cancellation of that day’s remaining classes, but when embers rekindled the next morning, administrators decided cancel the rest of the week. Spring break was just around the corner, giving the school and district time to begin recovering.
Portable buildings have been placed on the campus to house classrooms and offices displaced by the fire in the B Building. That building also housed the Health Center, the school’s communication/alarm systems and the library. A temporary phone system is expected to be in place by the beginning of next week.
In their press release, district officials note that safety and security concerns remain a top priority. Additional security officers are patrolling the campus, and a “full-scale evacuation drill is being planned,” according to Fire Department Assistant Chief David Orth.
Students are required to carry their school ID and their school programs, and all staff members must carry their school ID or an official form of identification.
The Berkeley Fire Department has established a special arson tip telephone number at 510-644-8721, where callers can leave messages regarding the B Building fire or any of the other arson fires that have occurred on the campus this year, including an April 6 arson fire in the English Department’s bookroom.