School opening on time after fire tears through classrooms

Rawson Saunders ready to start class six days after a fire tore through classrooms

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Central Austin school for children with dyslexia is ready to open six days after fire gutted and charred several classrooms.

“It’s gotta be terrifying to see your school in the news, in flames,” said Rawson Saunders Head of School, Laura Steinbach.

The flames only touched part of a two-story building called Beverly Hall which is off limits and fenced in for the time being.

The first floor is where all 150 students gathered at the beginning and end of the school day and also ate lunch.

The second floor, which is mostly destroyed, is where all the middle school classrooms were located. The fire displaced about 13 teachers and wiped out most of their classrooms materials.

Fire investigators said a free-standing, portable air conditioning unit was to blame.

Steinbach said the building has central heat and air, but the portable units help cool the building even more because it gets warm. She also said the unit in question was plugged in, but not turned on.

Four temporary classrooms have been added in the parking lot. They’re decked out and ready to go with furniture donated by Trinity Episcopal School.

Teachers, like Patricia South, who lost everything got another surprise.

“Laura put us all on a bus and sent us to Teacher Heaven and was like get whatever you need to get yourselves set up so that was a team building activity for us,” said South. “We were able to do what I feel Rawson Saunders does best and that is put the kids first.”

Classes start Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.

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