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East Brainerd Elementary School was heavily damaged by an EF 3 tornado on the night of April 12, 2020, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. / Staff photo by Robin Rudd

The East Brainerd Elementary reconstruction project is expected to cost more than initially planned, officials said.

The school was severely damaged by an EF3 tornado that struck Chattanooga on Easter Sunday. Repair costs were estimated to be at least $18 million. Thursday night's unanimous vote approved a $5.5 million construction budget increase, making the total reconstruction cost $23.5 million. There was no further discussion on the matter before the vote.

According to a Sept. 1 memo sent to the Hamilton County Board of Education members from facilities director Justin Witt, the change order will not affect the completion date.

Additional items for the work by The Christman Co. include $550,000 for exterior glass glazing, $350,000 for site lighting and $326,275 for landscaping.

Communications director Tim Hensley said the district's insurance will cover the costs.

"As they have gone through the [reconstruction] process repairing East Brainerd Elementary they started out with an estimate at what it was going to cost to fix it, and as they have gone through the process ... they found different things in order to complete the project," Hensley told the Times Free Press.

At least 21 classrooms were destroyed by the storm and other areas of the school were damaged. Some parts of the school experienced heavy water damage.

As the school building on Goodwin Road is being repaired, East Brainerd students and teachers are housed at the new East Hamilton Middle School. Other previous options considered included retrofitting a warehouse, using the former elementary school building or rezoning students to surrounding elementary schools temporarily.

District officials expect students and teachers to move back into the newly remodeled school by January 2021.

Contact Monique Brand at mbrand@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

 

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