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Start of school will wait, but maybe only a week

Double shifts eyed at high school, along with portable classrooms

EAGLE POINT ' Students who watched their middle school burn to the ground Thursday morning might wait just an extra week to start school.

— — — Teachers ask for help

The Eagle Point Education Association is requesting donations of office supplies to help teachers restock their classrooms.

Scissors, staplers, pens, pencils, glue, thumbtacks and other items can be donated Tuesday at Little Butte School, 12 N. Shasta Ave. in Eagle Point. For help with larger items such as file cabinets, call 830-6114.

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? — — — — Searching for a home for the school's 760 students, district officials are considering creating double shifts at Eagle Point High School or bringing in portable classrooms, according to Superintendent Bill Jones.

The school board will decide where to place the students in a meeting today at 9 a.m. at the district offices, 11 N. Royal Ave., Eagle Point.

If the district's boardapproves double shifts, the start date for all schools in Eagle Point, including the high school, Little Butte and Glenn D. Hale, could be a week later than planned, affecting some 3,000 students.

The schools were scheduled to open Tuesday, but administrators say the earliest they could make room for the middle school students would be Sept. 9.

We would hope to have accommodations for our students within the week, said Jones.

If the district decides to have two shifts at the high school ' one in the morning and one in the afternoon ' it would mean high school students would start school before the sun rises and middle school students would leave in the evening.

Jones said this option would create transportation problems for the district, which already buses many students long distances.

The other option, buying and installing portable classrooms, might take too long to open the middle school in a timely manner, he said.

The high school double-shift option would allow the district to get students back into school sooner.

Although some buildings are still standing at the middle school, Jones said, The place is basically off limits for a long time.

High school Principal Mari Brabbin said her campus is ready to go to double shifts if the school board approves the idea.

However, it would mean high school administrators might have to start at 5:30 a.m., followed by teaching staff at 6 a.m. and students at 6:30 a.m.

High school would let out at noon, and middle school students would start at 12:30 p.m., leaving school at 6 p.m.

Brabbin said the schedule is the same as one used in 1974-75, when the high school was under construction and double shifts were held at the middle school building, then a junior high school.

Brabbin said the high school has space to accommodate middle school administrators if the district opts for the double shift plan.

The district has other problems because of the fire as well, including the possible destruction of records containing information about students' health, academics and special education status.

While records were in fireproof containers, Jones said they were located in the area of the school that received the most heat damage.

We have yet to assess the total damage to the permanent records, he said.

New textbooks, computers, office supplies, desks and other materials were also destroyed in the blaze and will have to be replaced.

Some textbooks were salvaged from the rubble, but Jones said many may be unusable because of water and smoke damage.

Jones said the district's insurance carrier, the Protectors Insurance in Medford, is working to determine the extent of coverage and how much to provide the district to help open an interim facility.

Stan Rossetta, athletics coordinator for the middle school, said tens of thousands of dollars in equipment have been lost, including bats, balls and nets.

A 29-year veteran of the district, Rossetta remembers that students survived the last double shift. Anytime you have a crisis, people come together, he said.

School board Chairwoman Yvonne Fletes said, I feel very strongly that it will be better to run shifts at the high school.

She said it would be awkward for students not to have a cafeteria area.

Jody Streetman, president of the teachers' union, said, My gut feeling is that we will have double shifts at the high school.

She said the fire has helped bring the community and teachers together.

Everybody was taking textbooks from the (middle school) and laying them out on the ground to dry out, she said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476, or e-mail