WAVERLY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nearly two years after flood waters swept through Waverly, killing 20 people and destroying Waverly Elementary School and Waverly Junior High, construction on a temporary school is almost complete.
This August, Waverly Elementary and Junior High students will begin learning inside what used to be the Acme Boot Factory, transformed into a school with 69 classrooms, multiple gymnasiums, and a large cafeteria.
“That gives the teachers this summer to get their classrooms ready to make it their own, so they’re excited because they’ve got a place to call their own, because we’ve been displaced going on two years now,” Richard Rye, Humphreys County Director of Schools said.
Students and staff will use the 73,000-square-foot renovated school building until their permanent schools are built, which could take three to four years.
FEMA paid for 90% of the temporary school’s renovations, and will cover most of the cost for the permanent schools.
However, Rye told News 2 there was a lot of red tape getting money from FEMA, which is part of the reason the temporary school’s opening was delayed. The district also faced brick and concrete shortages, among other challenges.
“We’ve had a labor shortage with sub contractors who couldn’t get the people, so it’s been delayed and delayed and delayed, but it’s finally coming together,” Rye said.
During the remodeling process, Waverly Elementary and Junior High students have been learning in make-shift classrooms in auditoriums, on stages, and at a local community college at opposite ends of the county.
“We’ve got them spread out,” Rye said. “The teachers don’t get to communicate like they normally would in a regular school year, so that comradery and that sharing of professionalism, we haven’t had that.”
School staff toured the newly renovated building this past week. While the space isn’t complete yet, Rye told News 2 the district is looking forward to returning to normalcy this August.
“You try to take something tragic like the flood was and turn it into something positive,” Rye said. “We’re trying to make it positive.”
Once the permanent schools are built, the temporary school building will become the district’s central office.