PALMER--Negotiations will begin between the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Upper Susitna Seniors Inc. to provide a temporary location for Susitna Valley High School students.
Today (June 19) the Borough Assembly adopted an emergency action memorandum authorizing Borough Manager John Duffy to begin negotiations. The emergency plan will house students while a new school is built, which could take two years.
On June 5, a fire destroyed Susitna Valley High School, located 15 miles south of Talkeetna. School starts for staff on Aug. 15, and for the 185 students on Aug. 20, just 57 days away.
Assemblymember Tom Kluberton represents the area. "It's the best thing we could possibly do to get the doors open on Aug. 20," Kluberton said. "It's the fastest the Assembly could have moved."
The School District Appointed Superintendent George Troxel identified 10 portables from other schools in the district that will be relocated for the Su Valley interim school. Eight portables are already on site and were saved from the fire. The 18 portables will be used in conjunction with the Upper Susitna Senior Center, assuming an agreement is made.
A member of the audience, Steve Hicks, said he was grateful. "It's nice to see the School Board and administration can work with the Assembly in an expeditious manner. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Borough Finance Director Tammy Clayton laid out the framework for negotiations and possible funding sources for the interim school.
Clayton said certain upgrades to the Senior Center will be necessary and will be considered in the negotiations. The cost of those upgrades has not been determined yet.
Among the funding sources, Clayton said the insurance on the destroyed school provides for "extra expenses" such as an interim relocation plan for school. However, she said, the insurance company will be reviewing the alternate options. The limit is $1 million.
Clayton will be requesting an advance on funds, which would likely cover the contents that burned in the school. She wasn't yet sure if teachers' personal belongings were covered.
Other funding sources might be: lapsed funds from the School District, lapsed emergency response funds, a state grant, and the applied-for disaster relief funds. Those funds would be known last, Clayton said. "Homeland Security (state) will not come in until all the other funds have been exhausted," she said.
Gov. Sarah Palin has been given the disaster declaration signed by Manager John Duffy on June 15.
After the negotiations are complete an ordinance will be presented to the Assembly.
A request for portables from Anchorage has been made but not yet answered. Those portables would help the other Mat-Su schools that are giving up portables for Su Valley.
A parent suggested the formation of a committee with representatives of the many groups and entities involved. Assemblymember Kluberton supports that idea and has directed staff to establish one.
For more information call Public Affairs Manager Patty Sullivan at (907) 745-9577.