Historic Tampa elementary school gets $10M in insurance money to restore after post Irma fire

Honor integrity of school to be restored
Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-05 17:20:33-04

TAMPA, Fla. — "The school is a focal point. You know, it's kind of withstood the test of time," said Lee Elementary School's Tracy Dailey.

Lee Elementary has more than 100 years of teaching tenure in Tampa. 

"We had all those nooks and crannies built in because it's an old building so that, instead of a box, 
you had that," said Dailey who has a 9-year-old student. 

District battling insurance company over rebuilding Lee Elementary

One year later: Students and staff have not returned to Lee Elementary School

A power surge and fire after Irma reduced the more than a century old school to a brick shell.

"That is hugely important. It teaches the children the importance of salvaging materials," explained Dailey. 

Now students, teachers, and parents are learning more than $10 million in insurance money will rebuild Lee Elementary. 

The news lit up kids' faces where they make do in portable classrooms next to nearby Lockhart Elementary.

"This morning when they got the news you could hear-- I was on one side and you could just hear everybody scream, all the children. They're very happy about it and they miss it," said Daily. 

Instead of building new, the insurance money allows for some of Lee's historic integrity to be saved including a bell tower and the facade. 

"That brick wall, we're hoping, never comes down. That's why the money was spent to ensure that it's there and the bracing is there. Some of the guts will come out of the school," said Hillsborough County Schools Deputy Superintendent of Operations. 

The Hillsborough County School District plans to make code upgrades in bathrooms, the cafeteria and more. 

"We're making it work and we're happy we'll be able to have our building back," said Dailey.
Another thing that could change is the school's name. 

People want Robert E. Lee Elementary School name changed

The community issue was raised before the fire and will be a topic of conversation when the school board votes on the rebuild September 16.