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Catholic Mutual Paying Almost $60M for Tornado Damaged Schools

SPRINGFIELD (WGGB) — Neighbors Welcome Cathedral RebuildingA major announcement today from Springfield Bishop Timothy McDonnell concerning Cathedral High School.

After more than 2 years of legal wrangling with their insurance company, they’ve reached a settlement.

“I’m pleased to announce today that all items we’ve been talking to have been resolved,” said Bishop McDonnell.

And with that… the financial fight between the Springfield Catholic Diocese and insurance company – Catholic Mutual Group – came to an end.

The settlement is a  total of $60 million – roughly $20 million of which has already been paid, and the remainder, $40 million, to be paid in 30 days.

At issue… several properties damaged by wild weather back in 2011 including Cathedral High School and St. Michael’s Academy Middle School.

For 2 years, lawyers on both sides hashed it out the costs of rebuilding.

“There were certain things that the reference panel felt could be repaired instead of being replaced like the unit vents, heating systems and things of that nature so that sort of accounted for the difference,” explained one of the church attorney, Jack Egan.

The diocese was originally seeking $70 million, but settled for less and in return – the money they are getting is unrestricted.

“We don’t need the huge footprint that Cathedral had for that number of students. Therefore the fact that we have it unrestricted means that we can build now to our needs for 2013 and not then needs of 1959,” said Bishop McDonnell.

The school was originally designed for 3,000 students.

But  with current enrollment of just over 400 students combined at St. Michael’s and Cathedral – they don’t need the space.

So going forward the plan is to raze the science wing , the auditorium, and gymnasium.

“We’re looking towards how we can best utilize what we have and won’t know what that is until I get the report on the steel work and the framework of the building and what can be saved,” said Bishop McDonnell.

Until then, exactly how the new or rebuilt school will look is still unknown.

Except that – like the insurance pay-out – it too will be smaller.

“I would say we did well. I could always use more but we’ll work with this,” said Bishop McDonnell.

The bishop also issued a challenge to Cathedral Alumni, noting that until 1975, the school was tuition-free.

He’s now asking former students to pledge one year’s tuition… or $9,000… to set up an endowment so that future students can once again attend Cathedral without charge.

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