Impacts of the DeSoto Fire on Facilities Planning


Photo by Ben Perman

A photo caught by an ADM staff member shows the oldest part of the DeSoto building. This is the wing that would be demolished to make the 1990’s and 2010’s wing occupied with the three and four year old preschool.

In the April press conference with Superintendent Greg Dufoe, he revealed that the construction of a new high school was in the plan for future years. Shortly after that on April 19, the DeSoto Intermediate building went up in flames, bringing stress to students, faculty members and administration of the affected building.

“The damage was contained to the 1990’s wing, but the damage was pretty extensive,” Dufoe said.

Forensic work is still in process, but they believe that the flames started due to some old electrical issues with the air conditioning units on top of the ceiling.

“That’s where the fire was,” Dufoe said. “The damage was really extensive to the roof… and then the firefighters also damaged the roof more so they could tear up some of the roof deck and then make sure there wasn’t more fire between the ceiling and the roof.”

There was also a matter of water and smoke damage that made the building inaccessible for a couple of days due to dangerous air. Emergency services were brought the next morning to help start the cleanup.

This tragedy stirred up questions around the newsroom and the district regarding the plans for constructing a new high school in years to come. Many wondered if the funds needed to repair DeSoto Intermediate would put these plans off.

“The prospect of a new high school has to overcome a lot of things before it is built and occupied. One is, the board has to approve pursuing the bond issue and the bond issue has to be passed… if we execute our master planning DeSoto Intermediate ceases to become an intermediate school, it becomes a three and four-year-old preschool. Therefore that would demolish the three-story, and not have to rebuild classrooms because the preschool needs a much smaller building,” Dufoe said. “The 90’s wing we still want in the preschool, so in terms of following up on the fire, we are just making sure that any of the improvements that we make don’t run counter to a vision for the preschool.”

Dufoe revealed that no significant decisions need to be made. The roof will need to be replaced and items inside the building will need to be cleaned, but nothing is currently impacting the talk of a new high school for ADM.