St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Brookhaven reopened for its first day of school Aug. 17, but some students are in remote classrooms on church property after a man started a fire in the school earlier this year.
Michael Hornbuckle, 40, who authorities said is homeless, was arrested July 6 and was charged with arson in the first degree for the July 4 fire.
The part of the school building that is closed included all classrooms for Pre-K and 1st grade and one kindergarten classroom. Those students are now having class in church Sunday school rooms. The students also eat in the church’s fellowship hall instead of their normal cafeteria.
All the church property used by the school, which is located on Ashford-Dunwoody Road, will have to be converted weekly to be used by the church, Kristi Gaffney, the school’s marketing and communications manager said during a Aug. 17 tour of the school.
Some teachers also had to discard of school supplies and furniture as they were damaged by smoke, she said.
The building remains gutted as contractors work to ventilate the building to clear it of the smoke odor. The school is submitting paperwork to its insurance company to determine how many funds it will receive, which will determine what possible improvements can be made to the building during reconstruction, Gaffney said.
Gaffney said they are lucky the school has been able to move to areas within the church instead of an off-site location.
“We are really fortunate they are letting us use the space,” she said.