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Oct 3, 2011 8:00 PM

Southgate Academy struggles to reopen after storm damage

TUCSON - A summer storm peeled back the roof of Southgate Academy Charter School, and three weeks later, students and staff are still waiting to get back to class.

Students at Southgate Academy were hoping to get back to class Monday morning, unfortunately their old building is still a mess and their new, temporary, building next door is not quite ready for school.

This week, officials are gathering the students in the parking lot for a few hours each day. The idea, according to Academic Facilitator, Delia McCraley, is to get them excited about their new classrooms and to teach them how to roll with the punches.

"We're taking this opportunity to build community partnerships to make sure parents are informed about what to expect," McCraley siad. "And obviously we have to tell them to expect the unexpectable."

Southgate just moved to a modified traditional calendar and the school was coming up on fall break when the damage was done. With some creative scheduling, they've only lost three days of classroom time so far. They'll make up those lost days over the rest of the school year.

School officials are applauding the hard-working construction crews who have been working 18-hour days to get this job done so quickly. "It's amazing to see what can be done with a lot of effort and a lot of manpower, over the past week we've built 22 offices and classrooms in what was an old factory," McCraley told News 4 Tucson.

The school is temporarily leasing a vacant building next door, but there is a chance it could become a permanent part of the campus. For now, eight modular buildings sit waiting to be used.

School officials hope to have classes ready by Thursday, but construction crews inside say that's a stretch. They're hoping to have things done by Friday.

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