Danville schools closed from storm damage could reopen next week

GW High School, Langston Focus School remain closed; all others opened Thursday

DANVILLE, Va. – Danville Public Schools maintenance staff members continued working Thursday to clean up the basement at George Washington High School.

"Things were floating throughout the water; all kinds of storage and band equipment," Danville Mayor and Danville Public Schools Maintenance Director Alonzo Jones said.

Jones shared pictures with 10 News Thursday that he took of school district employees' initial cleanup effort after the storm.

"We had to have a special pump. We had our entire team mobilize over here at George Washington High School to get all of the water out. After we got all the water out of the vault, we also had to get all the equipment that was floating in the water out. So it's been a tiresome project," Jones explained.

The band equipment is now piled up outside the basement.

Much of it still shows signs of water damage.

Pictures taken by the school district's assistant maintenance director show what the basement looked like after the water receded.

"This is a major project down here because our HVAC units, our electrical units, all of that stuff has got to be replaced," Jones said.

The plan is to get the basement cleaned out and make the space usable again.

Danville Superintendent Dr. Stan Jones said the school will be reopened once it's safe for students. 

"Whenever we open GW, we may have to look at sort of cordoning off a portion of the school," Jones said.

Specifically, the auditorium may have to be cordoned off and a temporary location for the band and orchestra to use will have to be found.

GW High School was built in the 1950s.

Given its age, and now the flooding, 10 News asked Jones if he think s a new high school needs to be built.

"A 21st century high school is long overdue in my opinion. But that is the community's decision. If the community wants a 21st century high school, then they have to make a decision about how they're going to pay for it," Jones said. "We've identified what we think is the need. We believe that we can probably renovate both GW and Langston. We think those are viable options."

As for making up the class time students are missing while school is closed?

"The state requires 990 clock hours. We have a very long school day, so right now we're in good shape, but we are going to have to take a look at our calendar," Jones said.

A presentation will be made to the school board in November.

Langston Focus School's roof was also damaged.

The cost of the damage at both schools was still being determined Thursday.

As of Thursday, Tropical Storm Michael was estimated to have caused $8.7 million in damage in the city as a whole.

According to the city's public information officer, $2.9 million worth of damage was done to public infrastructure such as streets and parks, $2.9 million was done to residential structures and $2.9 million was done to commercial structures.

Four residential structures were destroyed, 17 received major damage, and 134 total residential structures received some damage.

One commercial structure was destroyed, two received major damage, and a total of 62 received some damage.