The Westbrook School Department is awaiting final confirmation on its $1.3 million insurance claim for damage to the high school from a July fire, according to Superintendent Peter Lancia.

Lancia said he hopes to sign off on the claim with Liberty Mutual by the end of the month. The claim covers the cost of some new wiring, furniture replacements and structural repairs.

Meanwhile, the department is looking into funding to fix what won’t be covered, namely the work needed to remedy building code violations that were discovered in the wake of the fire but were not caused by it.  The fire was caused by improper use of electrical cords and forced high school students to attend classes remotely for four months.

“Insurance covered most of phase one, where repairs focused on the fire, but not the other code violations, or things like upgrading the technology in our meeting room,” Lancia said Monday, referring to upgrades to the meeting room used by the city, such as microphones, cameras and broadcasting equipment. Some of the equipment was damaged when the school’s sprinkler system was activated during the fire.

The City Council has agreed to allow the school department to borrow $570,000 from the state Department of Education to cover the majority of the non-insured expenses, most of which are for wiring upgrades and replacing computers and other equipment.

About $290,000 of the bond from the state will be forgiven, with $275,000 to be repaid over 10 years.

“The cost to address both the fire-related damage and code compliance deficiencies at Westbrook High School were unplanned but
absolutely necessary,” according to City Council documents. “While insurance coverage funded the fire-related damages, the (state program) is an excellent funding mechanism to finance most of the code compliance costs not covered by insurance.”

Initially, Lancia had hoped all wiring repairs would be covered by insurance because the old wiring could potentially start another fire.

Any other possible need repairs that arise can be covered by a state grant and loan, insurance payouts and leftover money from the Saccarappa and Middle School expansions, Lancia previously said.

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