District battling insurance company over rebuilding Lee Elementary

Proposed settlement more than $3 million short

The damage to Lee Elementary is catastrophic after a fire ripped through the historic building in September. Now months later, its future is still up in the air.

Parents are wondering when they’ll get their school back.

RELATED: Three-alarm fire at Robert E. Lee Elementary school

“This whole situation is just dragging on,” said PTA President Jomil Frick.

Frick says she wants the school district to be more proactive in getting it rebuilt and take better care of the property in the meantime.

“I’ve had parents come up to me and tell me where is the tarping. Why are the windows open.”

The district is working on a solution. They say it will take about $12 million to rebuild. But they just got an insurance settlement proposal for much less. Closer to $9 million.

RELATED: Fate of Lee Elementary, gutted by inferno, is still unknown

“We anticipated that offer might not be exactly what we wanted. Everybody has had insurance claims before. Sometimes there is a little gap between what you think your car is worth versus what the insurance company gives. It’s a very similar situation. Just a lager scale,” said Hillsborough County School District COO Chris Farkas.

The district says they’d like to preserve the historic building, but that could end up being even more than a total redo.

“It’s a little bit heartbreaking that the school couldn’t get all the money that they were expecting,” said Frick.

The district is hiring it’s own engineers and builders to see what the options are. And they’ll negotiate with the insurance company to try and get more money.

Students from Lee are now sharing a campus with Lockhart Elementary. And it appears things will stay that way next year too.

The complete insurance report is available at: https://tinyurl.com/LeeReport0118.

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