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VOL. 133 | NO. 178 | Friday, September 7, 2018

SCS Weighs 6-8 Week Student Relocation at Kirby High for Rat Infestation

By Bill Dries

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It will take six to eight weeks to seal off Kirby High School and rid it of a rat infestation. That’s what Shelby County Schools superintendent Dorsey Hopson told several hundred parents and students Thursday, Sept. 6, at a meeting at nearby Hickory Ridge Middle School.

“There’s not going to be an easy solution to this problem,” Hopson said after vowing that Kirby would reopen but not until after students are temporarily relocated for some time and perhaps not until the new school year semester begins in January.

Hopson said he is exploring several options and plans to make recommendations to the SCS board Tuesday at the board’s monthly work session.

Dorsey Hopson

Hopson said school workers who had been renovating space for a Career Technical Education program at Kirby disturbed a nest of rats in a storage building. In what he termed an “unavoidable natural disaster,” Hopson said the rats found their way into the high school and the school system along with the Shelby County Health Department and a private pest control company began dealing with the infestation. That included using chemicals and traps to round up the rats that came with odors either from dying rats or the chemicals used.

“We’ve trapped a whole lot of rodents,” Hopson said of the activity at the school in the last week or so that prompted two closings of the school in the past week – the latest through Friday, Sept 7. He estimated the school system had spent $70,000 on the problem through Thursday.

“This, I can tell you, is not a scenario where somebody wasn’t doing their job,” he told the crowd.

The options Hopson is considering include building out temporary classroom space at Hickory Ridge Mall, moving students to the old Southside High School or dispersing students among existing schools in the area. But Hopson said his preference is to keep Kirby students together as a group. He also told parents that the school system would provide transportation for students depending on how far away the temporary quarters are. Other commercial space in the Hickory Hill area is being considered as well.

If the temporary space requires any kind of build out, Hopson said the school system would also have to consider an interim space until its ready.

“I do not want to break up Kirby High School,” he said to applause from parents and students in the middle school auditorium. He also said the school system might attempt to undertake some broader renovations to the school during the down time to reopen “a stronger Kirby.”

Written questions from the parents focused on making up school work, the possibility of voluntary transfers to other schools and athletic events. Hopson said the school system is consulting with state education officials on all of those points and is also considering all away games as an option.

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