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School board receives settlement for Curiel fire

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tuesday night, the Spencer school board learned the district had received a settlement for $219,000 from EMC Insurance, the company from which they had bought the policy for the former Reynolds school building.

The policy was bought several years ago to protect the assets of the district. The Curiel-Reynolds School of Visual Arts has been the tenant of the building since 2008, when Director Louis "Tony" Curiel purchased the building on contract from the district.

In order to receive the settlement, the school must indemnify EMC Insurance from the claim.

"We were the policy holder, they're the insurer, and that's their objective," said Board President Bob Whittenburg. "We have to clear them of the claim so that they wouldn't have to pay twice."

Curiel is "waiting to see what transpires" after the school's fire.

In the meantime, Curiel and other supporters of the school are working to get the building clean and ready for winter.

"We're about two weeks away from winter-ready," Curiel said.

In addition to cleaning the building for winter, Curiel is anticipating a new boiler to be delivered next week.

He noted the school was operative again only two days after the fire.

"You can't just stop doing what you're doing in lieu of what happened," he said. "I'm doing the best I can possibly do here, trying to keep the bills paid like every other businessperson in Spencer in these difficult economic times. It hasn't been easy."

Curiel has spoken, both directly and indirectly, to the school board and to the district superintendent, Terry Hemann, though he was not present at Tuesday's meeting.

While the district has received the settlement, it is still unsure of the impact this will have on the school. Whittenburg anticipates a discussion at a future board meeting.

Despite the circumstances, Curiel is appreciative of the support he's received from the board and the district.

"Everybody has been helpful, and I've really appreciated that," he said. "Hopefully we can work together with the district and make the best of it."

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