79ºF

Broward County school district works to repair buildings as students return to class

5 buildings sustain temporary roof damage, superintendent says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County public school students are back in the classroom after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to almost every school in the county, forcing the district to cancel classes for a week.

"From the anticipation of the storm, to the experience of strong wind, Irma was a major challenging event for the entire community,” Broward County school board chair Abby Freedman said.

The superintendent said every school now has power, but there are reports that some classrooms don't have air conditioning.

"Any time you don't have a good working environment, that is absolutely a concern,” Robert Runcie said. “We send our technicians out (and) they get those fixed on a timely basis."

School district officials said the hurricane damaged several schools, which are still being repaired.

"We had five buildings that had temporary roof damage. Three of those have been fixed so far and completed. One is starting today, another one, we're waiting for parts," Runcie said.

There were also two schools, J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, and Parkway Middle School in Lauderhill, where water flooded into the orchestra pit.

In all, students lost seven days of school -- time they'll have to make up.

"Will we be required to extend the school year? Will we receive a waiver? Those are being worked out," Runcie said.

Despite the challenges, the superintendent said the first day of school went well. Most school buses arrived on time and most teachers and students showed up for class.

"The reopening of our schools yesterday is clear evidence we are a strong community," Freedman said.

Some students and their families still don't have their power back at home, so the district is offering free breakfast and lunch until Oct. 20.

There is no word yet on the financial toll caused by the hurricane.