BRANDON, Fla. — The principal for McLane Middle School in Brandon said they have a plan to accommodate some 200 incoming seventh graders within existing spaces on campus after a fire on Friday destroyed a building that housed what would have been their classrooms.
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"We will be able to take on our own students," said Principal Dina Langston. "We're hoping that we're going to absorb without having any other plans or any portables or anything else like that."
Langston said a deciding factor will be whether or not the fire damaged any of the surrounding buildings. Hillsborough School District engineers are expected to have an answer in a couple of days.
"We're just hesitating on putting out a plan because we're still working with the engineers," said Langston. "I don't want to put out a plan and then tell everybody in two days based on the investigation and all of the tests... that we're now going to have impact to other buildings."
It's suspected that lightning caught the roof of the affected building on fire late Friday night, but Hillsborough Fire Rescue is still investigating the incident.
Langston said the two-story building housed eight classrooms and some of the teachers had already set up for the school year that begins in three weeks.
"They had just finished their rooms. School classroom libraries, we had just moved everything," she said. "There were three teachers who were functionally all in and ready to go."
The Hillsborough Superintendent is providing those affected teachers with a $1,000 stipend to re-supply. Langston said the fire also destroyed 120 computers that were practically brand new.
Langston said her main message to parents is not to worry.
"We're going to be Viking strong. We've got it. We have a plan. We have a backup plan," she said. "We feel like we're going to be in a good place and the first day of school will be as normal as possible."