Students from the Owego Elementary School have been displaced for more than a year now, but plans are moving forward to bring them back to the original campus. YNN's Chris Whalen tells us what questions still remain as rebuilding gets underway.
OWEGO, N.Y. -- Since last year's flood closed their school, students from Owego Elementary have been learning at L.W. West in Endicott, some 20 miles from their former elementary campus.
"It can be a 20 minute drive for parents, depending on where they're coming from. That means changing babysitters, the time they're coming and going from work and that just adds a different stress level for everybody," said Tami Steele, an Owego Elementary parent.
That stress level may have gone down a bit after students and parents learned two weeks ago that a new school will be built back in Owego.
"It's nice to see a new building come about, get the kids home, the teachers home, the staff home to a new building," Steele said.
A year after flood waters inundated Owego Elementary School, staff, faculty and parents are glad to know the rebuilding process is moving forward, but as it does, there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.
"Some people, believe it or not, are saying why are we going to build a new school, why not just fix the old one? Why are we talking about building it in the same location? Whether or not local tax payers will be paying for it or if FEMA and the state will be covering most of the costs?" said Owego-Apalachin superintendent, Dr. Bill Russell.
Dr. Russell addressed these questions at an informational meeting Wednesday evening. He says a new building is more cost-effective since the cost of repair is more than 50 percent of the cost constructing a new school.
Much of the needed infrastructure is already in place at the original campus, which is why the new facility will also be on that location.
And as far as who's footing the bill, Russell says taxpayers need not worry as insurance, FEMA and New York State will fund the entire project.
"Our expectation is that there will be no impact on local taxpayers," Russell said.
More information on the project will be available at another informational meeting on October 2nd at Owego Free Academy.