Shaker Heights school board facing tough decisions after Fernway school fire

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SHAKER HEIGHTS – In the aftermath of a massively destructive fire at Fernway Elementary School, the Shaker Heights School Board is facing some challenging decisions.

“What to do with our students when school starts on August 22nd, and what to do with the Fernway School,” said Scott Stephens, Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations with the Shaker Heights City School District.

The fire started last Tuesday morning, July 10th on top of the historic building, and quickly intensified, devouring the old clock tower and collapsing the roof.

About twenty additional fire departments were needed to help Shaker Heights firefighters shuttle water from more than a quarter of a mile away to the location and put the blaze out.

The building survived, but sustained extensive water and smoke damage.

The district began a 24/7 operation to secure the location and salvage as much as possible, while making plans for the upcoming school year.

At the school board meeting Tuesday night, the mayor and board members started by honoring firefighters for their hard work, and especially Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney.

The board also briefly got an update on mold concerns, and said a chain link fence would be installed at the Fernway within days, while generators would continue to provide security lighting at night.

More than three hundred children attend Fernway Elementary.

The district is considering options to keep them together, with their teachers at a different location, without neglecting the other seven Shaker Heights schools.

“A tall order,” said Stephens said. “We want to make decisions on this as soon as possible, but it would be irresponsible to make decisions without having the full set of facts before us that are still being gathered by the fire department, by insurance adjustors and such.”

The district has called a special community meeting for this Thursday, July 19th at 6 p.m. at the Lomond Elementary School gymnasium.

Fernway Principal Chris Hayward and Shaker Heights Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney will be there to update the situation and take questions from the public.

Chiild care will be provided by the district and everyone is encouraged to attend.

Stephens says, they’re grateful for the community's support and determined have a smooth start to the school year as well.

More on  Fernway, here.

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