Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High may not have to return to the three-story building that was the site of the deadliest school shooting in Florida history.
The school district has proposed tearing down the building on campus that housed freshmen, Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said Friday. It was the spot where many of the 17 students and faculty were murdered Wednesday by a gunman with an AR-15-style weapon. Former student Nikolas Cruz has been charged with the killings.
“We’ve received numerous requests from parents, students, community members and local elected officials that they would like the building demolished and some memorial resurrected on the site,” Runcie said.
He said the building will be inaccessible for a while anyway because law enforcement officials are using it for evidence.
The proposal would need School Board and state approval, as well as funding, Runcie said. He said he plans to talk with legislative leaders about possible funding for a replacement building. The building was constructed in 2009, and a state waiver would be needed to demolish a facility that new.
Runcie said the school district will work this weekend to develop plans for re-opening the school. He said it’s unlikely to happen before late next week.
“There are a number of funerals, and we don’t want students and teachers to have to choose between going to a funeral and going to school,” Runcie said.
He said there are also repairs that need to be made. First responders tore down some doors to get onto campus, so they need to be repaired, he said
“We plan to do that as fast as possible,” Runcie said. “I would not want to have a school that’s open and unsecure.”
Another problem: how to accommodate all 3,000 students on campus. The freshman building held 900 students, and the school is already at capacity. He said it’s not a quick or easy solution to bring portables onto campus, due to permit, installation and utility requirements.
“We’re looking at the master schedule to see where there are classroom vacancies in certain times of day and locations,” Runcie said.
He and School Board members Robin Bartleman and Donna Korn visited the building after it was cleared.
“The three of us just wanted to hold hands and say a prayer. Just looking at that building and talking about it now, I have goosebumps out to my head,” Runcie told Sun Sentinel Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara. “I don’t know how teachers, students could get back in that building. I don’t even know how we’re going to open the whole campus, period.”
Meanwhile, the school’s teachers met Friday at Parkland City Hall, with hugs and Kleenex all around.
“I needed to see everyone,” said Nadeen Ashman, an intensive reading specialist.
Some said they haven’t been able to sleep.
“Every time I almost fall asleep, I keep seeing her face,” said history teacher Devin Schaller, recalling the look on a substitute coordinator’s face that made him realize a disaster was happening.
Math teacher Joel Sanders said that when watching TV news coverage, he starts out thinking that a bad thing happened at some other school.
“Then I think, ‘Wow, that’s my school,” he said.