The burned roof of the Atlantic Middle School. (Photo courtesy Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy Ben Bartholomew)

The Atlantic School Board held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss plans to move students from Atlantic Middle School to other district sites after a fire July 27th left the building with substantial water damage.

Superintendent Steve Barber says they’ve worked up a strategy with the goal of trying to maintain a sense of normalcy. “We wanted to make sure it was least disruptive on our middle school’s staff and students,” Barber says. “After going through last year’s COVID year and now we throw this on top of them, the best thing we can do is to try to keep it as normal as possible, given the circumstances.”

Eighth graders will be using the High School Media Center for classrooms, with the goal of keeping those students as separated as possible from 9th-through-12th graders. Seventh-grade students will be housed in the eastern third of the district’s Achievement Center in new, temporary classrooms.

“We’re in the process of getting approval from the state fire inspector to construct six classrooms consisting of a temporary wall, eight feet high, double-sided sheetrock with insulation or sound barrier,” Barber says. “It will be at least 32-by-21 which is 672 square feet and a little larger than many of the current rooms at the middle school.”

School starts August 23rd and the middle school building is being cleaned with restoration to follow. Barber says the process will take patience. “I am completely confident in those who are in charge of getting our middle school back to pre-fire condition,” he says. “There’s no doubt that their goal is to get it completed as quickly as possible, yet there’s a lot of work to be done, so, we must prepare ourselves to last the whole school year.”

Sixth-grade students will be served in the developed western third of the Achievement Center building, while the EOC (Educational Opportunity Center) students will be relocated to two classrooms at Iowa Western Community College in Atlantic.

(By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)