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Wadena-Deer Creek school board chairwoman assures that schools will open this fall

WADENA, Minn. - Wadena-Deer Creek School Board Chairwoman Ann Pates assured the public that school will be held this fall, but just how school officials will make that happen wasn't apparent Tuesday night during the board's first meeting since a tornado tore through town on Thursday.

The tornado hit the high school, tearing off large sections of roof, blowing out windows and making the structure dangerous to enter. Some sections of the school are so unsafe that structural engineers, who must assess the damage, will not enter.

Superintendent Virginia Dahlstrom said the district's insurance company has promised to report back before July 7 whether the school can be repaired.

District Business Manager Jerry Anderson said the high school is insured for full value, including all of its contents.

Minnesota State Community and Technical College - Wadena, located across the street from the high school, has offered to find classrooms and space for Wadena-Deer Creek's top four grades, but that institution also suffered damage.

Superintendent Dahlstrom said she'd know whether the college's offer was viable in the next two weeks.

Dahlstrom also has talked with officials about using a former Catholic school in town. The school closed earlier this month. St. Ann's has six classrooms.

Dahlstrom believes portable class rooms also will be needed, she said.

Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary School suffered only minor damage and can be used. It presently houses high school and district administrative personnel.

The School Board granted Dahlstrom emergency resolution powers but also decided to meet each Monday for the next four weeks.