District 9 reaches settlement for 2002 junior high fire

It has been just short of six years since an early morning blaze destroyed most of the Eagle Point Junior High School. Since that time there have been numerous meetings with Great American Insurance representatives. Three years ago School District 9 and Great American retained legal counsel in an effort to reach a financial settlement. That failed and in May of 2006 both sides filed complaints.
   
June 2007 both sides met with a federal judge mediating toward a settlement. A tentative agreement was reached only to have the insurance company back out.

A final effort was scheduled last week on June 26 in Portland  before a
mediator and if that failed, a jury trial was set for July 8 in Medford.
   
An
agreement was reach and in a press release following an executive
session Friday, June 27, School District 9 Board Chairman Jonathan
Bilden said an unconditional payment of $12 million would be received.
"The settlement provides the district with maximum flexibility in
meeting current building needs of the district without continued
oversight from or unstructured timelines of the insurance company. The
school board is currently reviewing options related to building a new
elementary school. Time is of the essence to the school board since
construction and material costs continue to increase drastically. The
school board’s plan, in conjunction with the district’s administration,
will be centered on the long term needs of the district while offering
better servicing all of our students," concluded Bilden’s press release.
   
Bilden
told this reporter the $12 million includes money and interest from the
money received after the fire. That check was for $5.2 million and with
interest, the figure is about $5.5 million.
   
Superintendent
Cynda Rickert said she felt the board needed to review the processes
that have taken place since the fire including plans for Hillside
Elementary. (Only Scott Grissom was on the school board at the time of
the fire, the remainder of the board members were elected since that
time. And all but one administrator is also new since 2002.) Rickert
also agreed that a structural engineer should be retained to look at
what remains of the junior high and that the condition of Little Butte
School needs to be analyzed. And, all of the information needs to be
shared with the public.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent

 

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