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Advocate file photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Firefighters drags more water hose out to put out the fire at Baker High on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 in Baker, LA.

The Advocate

BAKER — The Baker School District district has spent $110,000 so far on architectural work related to renovations of Baker High School, of which 90 percent is reimbursable through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, school district business manager Sidney Stewart told the School Board Tuesday night.

Preliminary sketches should be available in the next week, at which time the board will meet with architects and begin to make decisions on the direction of the renovations, Superintendent Herman Brister said.

Belt-tightening will be necessary to cover any costs not reimbursable by FEMA, but student welfare and progress will not be compromised, he said.

Baker High was damaged in the August 2016 flood and since then the high school students have occupied the Baker Middle campus while the middle school students are housed at the Bakerfield Elementary campus. Bakerfield students have been sharing classrooms with Baker Heights Elementary.

A fire on Sept. 17 that destroyed equipment and supplies stored in Baker High’s Carraway Hall, as well as damaging the building, complicated the renovation process.

Three juveniles were arrested in connection with the fire, which investigators deemed arson.

After Tuesday's meeting, Brister said insurance adjusters had visited the school regarding the fire but not yet given a report on the extent of the damage.

The renovations to the school are still expected to be completed by fall of 2019, he said.

Progress has been slow because of the requirement that FEMA review every step in the process as a condition of reimbursement.

Also on Tuesday, the board also conducted its performance review of Brister during a closed-door session.

Afterwards, board member Rosatina Johnson reported that the board is satisfied with Brister’s work.

“He met all of our goals. He performed well above our expectations,” Johnson said.

Brister thanked the board for the vote of confidence.

“The first two years of this job have been difficult, but your vision has made it easy to take care of some critical issues,” he said.