VILONIA — “It’s kind of funny how plans you are making for the next school year change in a matter of a few minutes,” said Dr. Frank Mitchell, superintendent of the Vilonia School District.
The Vilonia Intermediate School, being built on Mt. Olive, was near completion before it was hit Sunday night and completely destroyed. In a board meeting about a week ago, there was discussion regarding the project being on target and being ready to move into within a month or so.
“At this point, I don’t know if the slab will even be salvageable,” Mitchell said. The district, he said, will just have to turn to Plan B whatever that turns out to be in the next few years.
When school resolves, officials will have plenty of other business to deal with. The district is dealing with the loss of two children as well as the loss of community members.
“The buildings can all be replaced but our kids can’t be,” he said. In addition, he said, several school employees have lost their houses as well as their family members have lost houses. He put to rest a rumor that one teacher had been killed.
"No, none of our teachers were killed. That rumor got started because the neighbor of a teacher was killed," he said.
Regarding the devastation, Mitchell said he has driven downtown and “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
As far as the other school facilities, he said, there was a little damage. Officials are assessing structural damage. However, he anticipates “we could probably start back in a day or two but there are so many displaced.”
“But, we realize this is just devastating and they need some time,” he added. Also he talked about displaced students. He said the district will work with families on the matter.
When school does resume, he said, there will be counselors available to both students and teachers. “We’ve just got a lot to deal with,” he said. “But, it’s life. It is something we have no control over and we need to only worry about things we can control. We have been here before and we will be okay.”