Within days of a tragic fire that destroyed their elementary school and damaged their high school, the Department of Education is acting to restore normalcy for the families and students of Caledonia, Queens Co. In a pre-dawn blaze on Thursday, Sept. 14, North Queens Elementary School was levelled. The adjoining North Queens Rural High School suffered severe water and smoke damage. The cause of the fire is under investigation. “My heart goes out to the affected families and I am very relieved that no one was injured,” said Minister of Education Karen Casey, who visited the site on Thursday afternoon. “I have directed staff at the Department of Education to work with the school board to develop short- and long-term plans to help the community recover,” said Ms. Casey. The Department of Education is fast tracking existing plans to renovate the high school and to add an elementary wing to the building. Planning will continue throughout the fall and the architectural work is to be completed by spring 2007. Construction contracts should be awarded by April 2007. With an aggressive construction schedule and cash flow, work should be completed by late 2007. On Friday, Sept. 15, Jim Gunn, acting South Shore Regional School Board superintendent, announced that the board is considering split shifts at South Queens Junior High, in Liverpool. The board has hired a company to clean up North Queens Rural High School and portables will be moved to the site as soon as possible and readied for the returning students. There are an estimated 278 students registered in the two schools.