THERE are 559 students of the Sapangdaku Elementary School who have to be crammed in the three-storey Sapangdaku Barangay Hall.

This, after Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama ordered the school to be vacated when the Guadalupe River near the school overflowed last week.

The school stands on a riverbed, said Councilor Dave Tumulak, who heads the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC).

The barangay hall is located 250 meters away from the school.

“We can actually start having classes tomorrow,” Tumulak told reporters yesterday.

Tumulak said the problem is not just the flooding. The school is also not sturdy enough to withstand a strong earthquake.

Tumulak said barangay officials will have to share the office of Barangay Captain Lorna Damalerio.

Rama plans to transfer the operations of the barangay hall until a new elementary school is built.

Tumulak said part of the City’s calamity fund can be used in building the school.

He will move today the declaration of a state of calamity in the barangay so the fund can be used.

Tumulak said the expenses should be shared by the Special Education Fund as the City has to save most of the calamity fund, considering that the calendar year is still on its second quarter.

CCDRRM Office operations chief Alvin Santillana is conducting a damage assessment and needs analysis of the school structure.

The result will be used by the City in preparing its next move.

But officials already see the need to construct a new school, away from the river.

Rama said the problem now is looking for a lot to build the school.

At least, officials won’t feel the anxiety every time it pours.

“We have seen the effects of Yolanda plus the storm surge. So we are aware of the problem in the school. The transfer is long overdue. I have to perform my job as mayor,” said Rama, in calling for the suspension of classes and ordering the closure of the school.

Suffer

“The barangay hall will suffer in the mean time, it will be performing somewhere else,” Rama said.

Tumulak said all classes can be accommodated at the Sapangdaku Barangay Hall so there will be no need for tents as these will only obstruct the barangay hall.

The 70 grade five students and 54 grade six students will share a room so they will temporarily have half-day classes until the use of the barangay hall can be properly managed.

There are 67 kindergarten pupils, 94 in grade one, 83 in grade two, 92 in grade three and 90 in grade four.

The CCDRRMC is also assessing the location of the Busay Elementary School for its safety. Part of it stands on a cliff.