Students at San Juan High School in Blanding will resume classes Monday after a suspected arson destroyed the school’s library last week and left six classrooms unfit for students.
The returning students will have to use other buildings on or near the campus as the school begins to rebuild the parts destroyed by a fire that police believe was set by two former students. San Juan School District Superintendent Douglas Wright said the effort to rebuild the damaged portion of the school will likely take the rest of the school year.
"We’re not really planning on getting into (that part of the school) until the next school year," Wright said.
To make up for the lost space, classes will be held in the school’s vocational building and an old seminary building the district purchased from the LDS church a few years ago, Wright said. Students also will use a classroom and computer lab in a building owned by Utah State University College of Eastern Utah less than a block away from the high school. Classrooms elsewhere in the high school will still be used while the damaged portion is walled off from the rest of the building.
On Nov. 17, two men allegedly set fire to the high school’s library, causing irreversible damage to the library and its materials. Authorities later arrested Deven W. White, 19, and Christopher Stolzer, 22, on suspicion of causing the fire intentionally. Both men are from Blanding and were former students of the school. The men had not been charged as of Sunday.
After the weekend fire, classes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were cancelled. Students already had school off for the rest of the week during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Wright said that initial estimates of the building’s damage could be at least $500,000, but after factoring in the cost of replacing the material inside the destroyed library, the total cost could be as much as $1 million. School district officials are still meeting with insurance appraisers to get a more definite amount, Wright said.
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