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District Negotiates Full Payment from Insurance Companies to Rebuild Lee Elementary

October 05, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tanya Arja
Office of Communications
813-272-4060

Interview Opportunity

Tampa, Fla. – (October 5, 2018) – After a year of discussions with the district’s insurance companies, Hillsborough County Public Schools has now negotiated full payment for the rebuild of Lee Elementary Magnet School.

On Tuesday, October 16, a recommendation will be brought before the School Board to rebuild Lee Elementary. If approved by the board, the Construction Manager – JE Dunn Construction – and the Design Professional – Fleischman Garcia & Planners – will work with the insurance companies to move forward.

It is important to note the district will not receive a check for the rebuild of the school. If approved by the School Board, representatives for the insurance companies will review all bids associated with this project moving forward. Both the insurers and district leadership will agree on the plans. The insurance companies will then make direct payments to the construction manager and design team, not the district, as the project progresses.

According to the insurance companies, if the district chose not to rebuild the school, the district would receive only a fraction of the amount – less than 10% - to pay for lost items including desks, books, technology, etc.

Deputy Superintendent of Operations, Chris Farkas, is available to talk to reporters at Lee Elementary, located at 305 E. Columbus Drive, at 10:30 this morning. Please let Tanya Arja know if you plan to send a crew. 

The devastating fire on September 12, 2017 engulfed the magnet school shortly after power was restored to the neighborhood when Hurricane Irma swept through the Tampa Bay area. The fire marshal concluded the fire was accidental and caused by an electrical surge. Hurricane force winds tore away part of the school’s roof and persistent rains created water damage inside the building, likely creating the spark that resulted when power was restored.

Fire rescue teams had to pour more than 850,000 gallons of water into the building to extinguish the fire, which was still smoldering more than 12 hours after the blaze. Water damage to the interior was extensive and irreversible. In the days and weeks after the fire, the district took steps to shore up the exterior brick walls, preserving the historic façade.

Students and staff from Lee Elementary have been sharing the campus of Lockhart Elementary ever since the fire. They have been in modular classrooms on the campus since January to create a more cohesive learning environment and to maintain their school identity.

Lee Elementary was built by volunteers in 1906 as the Michigan Avenue Grammar School and was renamed Lee in 1943. It became the district’s first magnet school in 1993.

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