Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Birney Elementary School Reopens Wednesday

Alice Birney Elementary School will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 18, following an early morning fire on Jan. 17 that damaged the school's combination auditorium-cafeteria and adjacent kitchen. There were no injuries reported.

The International Studies Magnet School will begin its Winter quarter on Wednesday, a day late. Birney is on a year-round schedule and its more than 500 students have been on vacation since Dec. 19. Staff has been working all day to ensure that a safe school is available for students on Wednesday.

"It should be close to a normal day for us," said Amanda Hammond-Williams, principal. "We'll talk with our students about what happened, then it's back to work."

The full cost of repair is still being determined by San Diego Unified School District staff. There was fire and smoke damage to the building, which is separate from other structures at the campus. Structural repairs, and replacement of fixtures and equipment will be funded by the district, however there were losses of materials for the school's drama and before- and after-school programs that are not expected to be covered.

"We estimate that it will cost about $50,000 to replace all the materials we had stored in the auditorium," said Hammond-Williams. Donations to the school can be made through the foundation, which is online at