By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item
DANVILLE — Sen. Bob Casey has announced an additional $1.08 million in federal funding for repairs to the Danville Middle School.
The money will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will help repair damage from September 2011’s Tropical Storm Lee.
“The recovery process from Lee has been challenging, but this funding is a positive development in Pennsylvania’s effort to rebuild from the damage,” said Casey, in a press release announcing the additional funds. “I will continue to push the federal government to provide as much help as possible to the communities affected by storms so Pennsylvanians whose lives have been disrupted can get back on their feet.”
“We’re just extremely grateful for Senator Casey’s office,” said Cheryl Latorre, superintendent of the Danville district.
Latorre plans to use the money to make the school more handicap-accessible. Middle school principal Charles Smargiassi described the building as not being handicap-friendly in its prior state, with exterior sidewalks that made it difficult to get in the front door.
With the new funds, the district plans to make handicap-accessible seating available in the bleachers and auditorium and have ramps added in the band room and stage, as well as reconfiguring the front entrance.
“We’re bringing all that up to speed,” he said.
Janis Venna, business manager for the district, estimates FEMA and its state branch, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, will have paid roughly $10 million for repairs to the Danville Middle School by the end of the project.
Venna estimated that the district will have spent about $1.5 million.
The Danville Middle School is on track to open at the start of the 2013-2014 school year in late August. Following its closing after the Tropical Storm Lee flood, the school’s approximately 500 students were taught in extra classrooms at the Danville Primary School and the formerly vacated Danville Elementary School.