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Fire-hit Catherine Junior School 'to be rebuilt'


A school which was badly damaged by fire looks set to be rebuilt on its existing site, at a cost of £3.6 million.

Youngsters at Catherine Junior School are working from temporary buildings on a playing field at Abbey Primary, in Belgrave, Leicester, less than a mile from their old site in Brandon Street.

Officers at the city council have recommended the Catherine buildings are stripped back to the original frame and rebuilt, using £2.4 million from the council's insurance settlement and the rest from its Basic Need Fund.

Councillor Vi Dempster, assistant mayor for schools, said: "The mayor and I visited the school site last week to see it for ourselves and discuss the possible options with the head teacher.

"I will be taking the formal decision on March 11 and would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff, parents and governors of both Catherine Junior and Abbey Primary for making the best of a difficult situation."

Other options being considered by the council include removing damaged cladding and refurbishing the building.

The cost of this would be covered solely by the insurance settlement.

Another option is rebuilding Catherine Junior on a larger scale and developing it into a primary school to incorporate the infants and juniors.

This would involve extending it beyond its current site, at a cost of between £6.2 million and £9.2 million to the council.

If the recommendation to rebuild at a cost of £3.6 million goes ahead, work would start shortly, with the aim to finish it by April 2014 at the latest.

The temporary buildings at Abbey Primary are rented and will only be paid for by the insurers until February next year.

Each additional week beyond that would cost the council £15,000.

Councillors on the children and young people's scrutiny committee were told this week that the school's mobile classrooms would be retained.

However, they urged Coun Dempster to reconsider this.

Committee chairman Ross Willmott said the option to rebuild the school seemed sensible but he would like there to be enough classroom space to enable the mobile classrooms to be disposed of.

He said: "I can see no reason why this can't be done."

Councillor Dempster assured councillors she would take this on board ahead of her decision.

Joy Denning, head teacher of Catherine Junior School, was unavailable to comment on the proposals.

The fire, in October, was caused accidentally by workers fixing the school's roof.

It destroyed the gym and left the rest of the building smoke logged.

Harmful asbestos was also released into the air when the blaze took hold.

Fire-hit Catherine Junior School 'to be rebuilt'

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