After years of waiting, the loved ones of the 17 people shot and killed and the other 17 injured inside the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018 will get finally closure next summer.
Broward County Public Schools announced Thursday that it will start to demolish the three-story freshman building in the summer of 2024, after consulting with health and safety experts.
Originally, the school district had planned to raze it during weekends and on school holidays over four to five months, but ultimately decided it would be best to wait until summer break when no students or staff members would be in the Parkland school.
“We understand the urgency of this matter, but it is essential to prioritize safety above all else,” the school district said in a press release.
“We are thankful to the students, parents and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well as the Parkland community for their patience and understanding.”
How will the MSD building be demolished?
A contractor will destroy the building by mechanical demolition, not implosion, and the school district hopes the work will be finished before the start of the 2024-25 school year, John Sullivan, a school district spokesman,said Thursday.
The destruction will take place immediately after the 2023-24 school year ends. The school year ends June 10, and the last day of the academic calendar is July 28, when teachers will issue final report cards.
Before the demolition starts, crews will clean and clear the building, following state and federal landfill disposal regulations.
The school district allocated $1.4 million for the project.
On Feb. 14, 2018, 14 students and three educators were shot to death in that three-story freshman building. Nikolas Cruz, an expelled 19-year-old Stoneman Douglas student, was sentenced last November to life in prison for murdering them.
The building has been preserved for years because of Cruz’s trial and then because the defense team of Scot Peterson, the only other person charged after the shootings, requested the building be preserved. The Florida sheriff’s deputy was acquitted in June of felony child neglect and other charges for failing to act for some 10 minutes before other officers entered the building.
After the criminal trials against Cruz and Peterson concluded this summer, the Broward State Attorney’s Office offered a walk-through to the 17 survivors of the tragedy and the relatives of the 17 people who were killed. Some accepted.
What will the school district do after the building demolition?
The Broward school district still hasn’t announced any plans for the grounds where the building stands. In 2020, the district built an $18 million building to replace Building 12, so a new classroom building likely won’t be built on the site.
Tony Montalto, the father of 14-year-old Gina Montalto, who was one of the 17 people killed, visited the building in July and told the Herald then that he’s looking forward to the school district’s proposal for a memorial. Ideally, he said, they would know what will be built before the demolition in case they need to keep access to water and electricity.
“We need a memorial,” he said at the time. “Just because the building goes doesn’t mean that that ground is not sacred and important because of who was lost there, who was taken.”