WEST COLUMBIA — School will be back in session Wednesday at Columbia High School and parents and students were invited to tour the campus after a waterline under the school ruptured and caused significant damage in July.

While all district schools were open to visitors Saturday morning, the visitors at the high school were shown how staff were adapting to the unexpected reshuffling of spaces.

A fire hydrant main waterline under Columbia High School burst in mid-July, rendering one of the school’s buildings unusable for the next school year, officials previously told The Facts.

Building B, the one-story building containing the school’s front entrance, reception, administration and counseling areas, sustained damage including a cracked and lifted foundation, Columbia-Brazoria ISD Superintendent Steve Galloway said.

The administration and reception staff have moved to the Dancin’ Dolls room at the front of the Columbia High School campus and the teachers’ lounge has had offices erected to accommodate the counselors, Galloway said.

This ensures staff can continue to serve parent and community needs during the new school year, Galloway said.

“We are ready,” he said. “We are going to start school because only administrators and nurses and counselors have been moved but we have areas for them.”

Costs to move staff members as well as start preliminary work on rebuilding Building B are at about $1 million, Galloway said.

Final costs for renovations and repairs are unknown at this time, Galloway said.

Building C, the two-story classroom building, also sustained water damage.

The primary focus on Building C has been to mitigate water damage by tearing out the walls, affected furniture and flooring and restoring them before the start of the school year, Maintenance Director Justen Williams told The Facts last month.

New flooring has been added to the building along with fresh paint, Williams said.

“We have new cabinets and doors ordered but they are not in yet,” he said.

Building C will be available for use by Wednesday, when school starts, Williams said.

Building B will be a more time-consuming project and won’t be finished for at least a year, however, Galloway said.

“If it is any less than a year, I will be shocked,” he said. “We are just gonna say at the earliest, it will be this time next year when this building is done.”

While some of the staff has been moved around, she is confident after touring the school on Saturday that the facility will be ready for all students, parent Lavern Francis said.

“My daughter will be here,” she said. “I don’t have any doubt that even if it’s kind of a shake-up in the construction, it doesn’t negate the teacher’s ability to teach or the students to learn. I think the kids will be fine.”

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0150.

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