LAFAYETTE, Indiana — A Lafayette-area school district is proceeding with plans to resume classes on Monday for students at two schools badly damaged during Sunday's severe storms.
State schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz wore a hard hat on Thursday as she toured the damage at Southwestern Middle and Mintonye Elementary schools. The Southwestern gym was missing walls, a tree branch was protruding from a section of the school's roof, and the roof was gone from over the rain-soaked band room, The Journal & Courier reported (http://on.jconline.com/1dnFNh4 ).
"I think it is devastating to the children and the staff who work at the school to see their school with that much damage," Ritz told the newspaper. "At Mintonye, it's good that a lot of the supplies and things in the classroom were able to be saved."
Tippecanoe School Corp. staffers have been working this week to prepare classrooms at the district's Wea Ridge Middle School, which has extra space available, and at First Assembly Community Ministries for about 950 displaced students.
District superintendent Scott Hanback gave Ritz a request that the schools get a five-day exemption from the state's 180-school day requirement because of the storm damage.
Ritz said her department will try to give the district some flexibility.
"We'll be looking things over like we always do," she said. "We have to look at how we've given out waivers in the past and how it goes on going forward. We'll be looking at everything."
The National Weather Service has confirmed two tornadoes near the two neighboring schools in a rural area about five miles southwest of Lafayette. The weather service has counted 26 tornadoes across Indiana from Sunday's outbreak.
The Tippecanoe school district is seeking donations of classroom supplies and money to replace destroyed equipment.
Mintonye second-grade teacher Christina Bymaster said Ritz's visit was one of several examples of support from the Lafayette community and beyond.
"It's just wonderful to know we have support and that she's come to see what we're going through," Bymaster said. "Everything's been so positive and so supportive."
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com