More flood damage found at Round Lake Park school, delaying repairs
When Murphy Elementary School in Round Lake Park sustained $2 million in damage from the historic July floods, school leaders were optimistic that the building would be back to 100 percent by November.
That changed after workers uncovered additional damage to the school. Now officials say students will be without a gym, library and four classrooms until next school year.
Principal Phil Georgia said the school has had to get creative while the repairs are taking place.
For example, without a room for the library, the school's librarian keeps a collection of donated books in a hallway. During library time, students will select a book to borrow and then the librarian will go to their classroom to read them a story.
Georgia said 95 percent of gym classes this fall took place outside, but when the weather was bad, teachers found ways to do physical education in the classroom.
"We've got a system in place and it's working, but as it gets colder, it will get harder," he said.
Because the gym doubles as a cafeteria -- and the school kitchen is located off the gym -- students aren't getting hot lunches. Georgia said officials are working with the district's food service company to try to provide hot food on occasion.
"A nice, warm bowl of soup would be nice in the winter," he said.
Sheila Duhon, the executive director of operations for Round Lake Area School District 116, said the previously undetected damage included broken storm drains, drainage tile and other problems that have made the 51-year-old building worse at handling rain water.
Duhon said the additional repairs are expected to cost $400,000 to $500,000, expenses that will not be covered by insurance.
"Everyone is really encouraged that we're going to address issues that have been there for a long time," Duhon said.
It isn't all bad news. The music room, which was closed throughout the fall, will reopen after winter break. Music class had been conducted in a temporary classroom installed behind the school.