Schools: 12 elementary schools, two middle and two high schools, REACH Adult High School and GOAL Academy
Students: More than 10,300
Source: Bradley County Schools
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Twelve days after they left their classrooms to find shelter from tornadoes, Bradley County’s 10,300 students return to class Monday — though not all of them will be going back to the same schools.
More than 800 pupils were displaced by storm damage at Blue Springs and Michigan Avenue elementary schools. Blue Springs students will be going to Waterville Community Elementary, and Michigan Avenue students will be at First Baptist Church on Stuart Road through the end of the school year. The church’s new facilities opened in 2010 and include about 30 classrooms.
Waterville Community and First Baptist held parent orientation meetings Saturday morning. Parents learned where to drop off and pick up their children while students got acquainted with their new classrooms.
“When we built this campus, it was our desire to minister to the community in a variety of ways,’’ First Baptist co-pastor Jim Gibson told the hundreds of parents there.
He jokingly welcomed parents to the “Michigan Avenue annex.’’
Bus routes will run on schedule, Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said Saturday.
Kindergarten registration has been rescheduled for May 16 for schools except Michigan Avenue. Blue Springs will register at Waterville. Michigan Avenue registration will be May 18 at First Baptist.
The county school board is waiting for information from insurance and structural engineers. McDaniel said he hopes Michigan Avenue will be ready by August for the new school year. Blue Springs students will attend other Bradley County schools next year, he said.
After the April 27 tornadoes, many schools lost power and school buses couldn’t get through roads blocked by trees, debris and downed lines.
Schools transportation supervisor Gary Austin and county road supervisor Tom Collins have inspected the cleared roads and said most bus routes will run on schedule Monday. Any route changes will be announced today.
McDaniel said that in addition to clearing roads and assessing damage to schools, the community needed time to recover emotionally.
“These storms have so impacted our community that, for many, it will be a long time before life returns to a more normal routine,” McDaniel said. “To those of you who have lost loved ones and property, please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.”
In a letter to Michigan Avenue School families, Principal Robert Brittingham wrote, “As a community, we will see the other side of this, a side where the roads are clear and power is on, and where little boys and girls complain because they have to wake up early and go to school.”
The storms brought less damage inside the city of Cleveland. City schools returned to their routine last week.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...