When a fire damaged enough of Grantsville Elementary School only a month and a half before school was scheduled to start, officials wondered where they would fit the 750 students without a place to learn.
But with thousands of dollars donated, hundreds of volunteer hours and 17 portable buildings, those students have a place to go on Monday. The community and several organizations banded together, filling school buses with supplies to replace ones destroyed in the fire and raising about $50,000.
"Not everything's perfect, but teachers have furniture, supplies and textbooks they need to get under way," Tooele School District assistant superintendent Ken Luke said. "We are ready to start."
Volunteers from Mountain America Credit Union, Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Tooele and Denny's restaurant Saturday collected donations and worked to fill another bus with supplies to replace those teachers lost in the blaze. The Tooele Denny's owner Chad Fullmer said his restaurant would donate about $1,000 to the cause through 10 percent of their Saturday profits. EnergySolutions promised $17,000 to rebuild the school's library.
The fire that left a charred building at 175 W. Main originated from a stove burning in the teacher's lounge. School was not in session at the time and only two custodians and two teachers with their children were in the building and were unharmed.
And when the local Wal-Mart Distribution Center heard that two of its employees have children who attend the school, it offered supplies and manpower to help get school started on time.
"They have provided trainers, people there to paint portables and more," Luke said. "Our maintenance people wouldn't have been able to finish it."
Volunteers relocated salvageable chairs, tables and desks from the burned area and helped organize classrooms in the portables placed at nearby Willow Elementary School where third- and fourth-graders will attend and at Grantsville Middle School where fifth- and sixth-graders will study.
The Wal-Mart Distribution Center gave the school a $15,000 grant and raised additional funds through cook-outs. Jeff Loafman, the center's general manager, said many workers will also be available on the first day of school to help with any congestion problems related to squeezing an extra 750 students on to the grounds of the two schools.
"It was a great community effort," Loafman said. "For a small community to make this kind of impact, they really had to come together."
One of the supply school buses was filled to the brim last week with crayons, folders, binders, lunch bags and more after four days of collections.
The Tooele County School Board will meet in September to discuss plans to tear down or fix the burned building. Luke said if the school is remodeled, the earliest students could be back is fall 2010. If the school is rebuilt, it could take two years or more.