RICHMOND, Va. — VACORP, the insurance company that covers Richmond Public Schools (RPS) buildings, has told RPS it will not cover the full cost of rebuilding William Fox Elementary School, according to sources.
The shortfall is about $10 million, sources told CBS 6 Problem Solver Melissa Hipolit.
RPS plans to challenge the number, these sources also said.
“Should the insurance payout come up short, it’s up to the School Board to meet 100 percent of the Fox community’s expectations for a new building,” said Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young. “That said, we will certainly need to take cost-saving approaches of engineering value, not unlike what we had to do on our last three buildings, when literally overnight the cost jumped by more than $30 million.”
CBS 6 Troubleshooters reached out to RPS for a statement on the situation.
The school system spokesman said RPS continues to work with the insurance company to “ensure the best possible outcome.”
In February, Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said Fox was insured for up to $13 million and the contents inside were insured for $4 million.
But Young later told CBS 6 Problem Solver that VACORP would provide enough money to potentially fund a full replacement for Fox, stating that RPS will receive millions more than originally expected under the terms of the contract with insurance company.
Kamras later confirmed Young’s statement and added that it was “excellent news” during an earlier community meeting with Fox’s parents.
Through a public records request, CBS6 Troubleshooter Melissa Hipolit obtained RPS’s contract with VACORP and the “statement of values” for each property covered by the insurance.
The statement of values showed the Fox building and its contents to be worth more than $14 million.
But when Hipolit asked an RPS representative about it, she was told the insurance was for replacement cost, so it didn’t matter what the property was insured for, it just mattered how much it would cost to rebuild.
Fox fire investigation
In July 2022, the Richmond Fire Department (RFD) stated that the February 2022 Fox fire was accidental and the cause was undetermined.
The fire department explained that there is no evidence to support any intentional or criminal action.
Richmond Fire took control of the site after the building fire on February 11th. Since then, fire and insurance investigators have spent months collecting physical evidence to determine the cause of the fire.
The fire department returned control of the building to RPS in July.
Richmond Fire Blames COVID
The Richmond Fire Marshal’s inspection of Fox Elementary School in August 2021 found eight violations.
One of those breaches indicated that the school’s fire alarm panel was in trouble mode.
The violations were supposed to be corrected by the end of September 2021, but the correction date was left blank for each.
Richmond Public Schools claimed they did not receive this Notice of Violation until after the February 2022 fire burned the school to the ground.
A previous report by CBS 6 Problem Solvers revealed that firefighters found the alarm panel in disrepair when they first arrived at the Fox that February night.
Firefighters thought something was wrong with the detector on their initial visit. They then returned 26 minutes later to a burning school.
The Fire Chief and Fire Marshal both declined interviews with CBS 6 Troubleshooters, but a spokesperson said the Office of Fire Prevention was unable to verify that the violations were corrected due to staffing and scheduling issues during the pandemic. COVID-19.
This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email [email protected] to submit a tip.