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Published: Thursday, 9/16/2010

Lake High School will be rebuilt at its current site


The tornado-damaged Lake High School will be rebuilt in full after the school reached an agreement Thursday with its insurance carrier.

The carrier, Travelers, has agreed to pay $19.1 million, which along with money for the Ohio School Facilities Commission, will cover the cost of a brand new school.

Lake leaders and insurance company representatives had been at odds over whether a new school could be built from the ground up or whether some of the structure would have to be salvaged. The school favored a new building.

Officials said Thursday that demolition on the remainder of the former high school should begin next week.

A state legislative panel this week unanimously signed off on the release of up to $2.5 million in emergency funds to help the Lake district recover from the financial debris created by tornados that nearly destroyed its high school three months ago.

The district has completed cleanup of the site in terms of removing rubble and portions of the building that had fallen to the ground. But the portions of the building that the insurer maintains can be saved had been kept intact.

In the meantime, to help the district cover other storm-related costs not directly tied to construction, the Department of Education convinced the Ohio Controlling Board to allow it to tap the state's

School District Solvency Assistance Fund. Although the program is traditionally used for schools in fiscal crisis, the state has pointed to a rarely used provision of the law allowing the fund to be used for a district that "suffers an unforeseen catastrophic event that severely depletes the district's financial resources."

The emergency funds are separate from the recent up-front commitment of $4.8 million made by the Ohio

School Facilities Commission directly toward actual construction.

Tornados that swept through portions of Wood, Ottawa, and Fulton counties on the night of June 5-6 killed six people, including the father of the Lake High School class valedictorian, the day before the

school's planned graduation ceremony.

The federal government, however, rejected the state's repeated requests for a disaster declaration that would have made the region and state eligible for assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency determined that the amount of uninsured loss was not beyond the ability of the state, local governments, and volunteer agencies to respond.

The state made $673,873 in emergency funds available for the region soon after the storms. The deadline for local governments to apply for funds is Oct. 1.

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