SF school damaged by fire in Dec. delays re-opening

January 3, 2012 12:23:30 PM PST
A San Francisco charter school, damaged by a major fire on December 22, needs a lot of help from the public before it can re-open.

The huge fire at Golden Gate Avenue and Pierce Street burned four buildings including the Creative Arts Charter School. The school is trying to create a makeshift cafeteria and nine classrooms. They lost about 50 percent of the school's space to fire.

First grade teacher Ron Buchanan said he lost almost all of his teaching supplies in the fire that started next door and spread to the school.

"Unfortunately in the fire I was one of the classrooms that were most affected -- so 12 or 14 years' worth of teaching materials -- all of these lovely material that were organized over the years. So I'm just starting from scratch now" said Buchanan.

Part of the building has been demolished as part of a renovation project, but now that nine classrooms have been damaged by fire, construction crews spent the winter rebuilding the demolished rooms so the students could move back into them.

"They have not had a break since Friday the 22nd. They have given up time with their families over the holidays to dedicate to creative arts," said Director Paul Greenwood.

School was supposed to open today, but the school's director decided to remain closed until tomorrow.

"I felt like we needed a day as faculty and staff to return to our foundation, which is collaboration, support for each other," said Greenwood.

Buchanan needed one more day to unpack and reorganize. He said he feels disappointed to have lost so many supplies, but he says his lesson plan will take on a new direction now because of the fire.

"I really want to take this opportunity to help them learn. So we'll do some firefighting curriculum, a trip to the firefighters, thank you notes. It was an amazing, amazing thing that happened over the winter break," said Buchanan.

The director said this is a determined community and he is certain they will open tomorrow.