MOORE — All that is left at the sites of Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools are cement slabs and a few bits of stray metal and brick.
The remnants of two schools demolished by a tornado May 20 have vanished, but the leaders responsible for making sure the students and teachers can begin school again have mountains of work ahead.
One challenge: money.
With a web of insurance claims and state funding dinged by the recession, Moore Public Schools officials hope the public will fill in the gaps.
The district recently announced a fundraising campaign called Rising from the Storm.
Donations will go to the general fund but will be earmarked for tornado recovery, Superintendent Robert Romines said. Donors can also specify particular projects — maybe refinishing a gym floor or replacing library books.
Romines said district officials want to be careful that each dollar goes to the right place.
“You're dealing with people's money,” he said. “You're dealing with people's emotions.”
Five buildings were destroyed or heavily damaged May 20; another 20 were damaged May 31.
Federal workers, insurance agents and district employees are still assessing the damage, but Romines said initial estimates are $60 million to $70 million.
The district has many different types of insurance plans, but gaps still exist.
“There are going to be costs at the end of the day that are unforeseen,” Romines said.
For example, the district has $1 million in relocation insurance that will pay for schools to relocate if facilities aren't usable. But with so many classes and offices to relocate, that $1 million will burn up pretty quickly. The rest will come out of the general fund, Romines said.
A variety of other costs are taking bites out of general and carry-over funds.
Insurance deductibles come out of the general fund, and two storms means two sets of deductibles. Landscaping isn't covered by insurance. The district was underinsured for technology equipment, Romines said.
Combine that with a dip in state aid and the result is a tight budget, Romines said.
But staff members are working to make sure school will be as normal as possible for students and teachers, Romines said.
“These kids, when they start on Aug. 16, they will have what they had pre-storm,” he said. “We are committed to that. We're getting there.”