DICKINSON – Dickinson Catholic Schools (DCS) leaders are moving forward after a fire allegedly started by former principal Thomas Sander destroyed portions of Dickinson Trinity High School in early March.
DCS president Steve Glasser announced April 10 that Trinity students will be back in their building when the 2014-15 school year commences on August 25. In fact, cleaning has progressed so that the graduation ceremony for the class of 2014 will be held in the Trinity auditorium on May 25.
Looking toward the future, the first step is to get the 250 students in grades 7-12 back on the Trinity campus, said Monsignor Patrick Schumacher, chairman of the Dickinson Catholic Schools board of directors. The central part of the building (which houses the main offices and library directly above) has been enclosed with walls and will likely need to be razed, he said, pending testing on steel beams, joists and masonry walls. However, the school’s west wing will be usable by the fall, which will spare DCS $1 million in annual relocation costs.
By mid-May, DCS administrators plan to have a clearer idea of what the Trinity campus will look like in the future—as well as how long it will take and what it’s going to cost.
An eventual move of the DCS elementary students (who are currently housed at two schools adjacent
to the Churches of St. Wenceslaus and St. Patrick) to the Trinity campus is being considered as part of the long-term plan for the school system. Administrators envision a hub of offices, gyms and cafeterias between two schools—one housing elementary students and another for grades 7-12. Schumacher compared the layout to that used on the campus of Shanley High School and Sullivan Middle School in Fargo.
Moving toward that goal, Steve Habeeb, a Boston architect, will be in Dickinson with his team in early May to conduct a feasibility study on how to best use the existing facilities. In the meantime, cleaning will continue in the still-usable cafeteria and “two marquee core spaces:” the auditorium and Knights of Columbus Activities Center gymnasium, which can hold 2,300 people. Schumacher called the gym “some of the most valuable gym space from Minot to Rapid City and Bismarck to Billings.”
ServiceMaster Recovery Management has employed 60-70 people working 12-hour shifts since the fire cleaning books, papers, desks, auditorium chairs and other equipment in the school. The cost to clean the 109,000 square foot structure and its contents is estimated to reach $2.5 million.
“Despite the unfortunate event on March 3 and the disruption to our students, the board of directors is moving in a clear direction and we are in a good position,” Schumacher said. “We have an immediate plan for the fall as well as a long-term plan for the next 50 years.”
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