MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kirby High School is now back open with a full makeover after officials did more than just exterminate after the school was closed last semester when a rat infestation forced students out of the school in August.
Officials said about $2 million were spent on the improvements. Where there was once a snake slithering in a classroom, rats hiding under bleachers and rodents darting across the cafeteria, there is now a full slate of state-of-the-art equipment.
"Before we moved into the renovations and the actual improvements, we needed to work with the vendors to make sure the building was clear of rodents," Natalia Powers of Shelby County Schools said.
Powers said the district fixed the school up after solving the rodent problem beforehand.
"They required us to have a few days of quiet to make sure there was no movement of any kind of pest or rodent," Powers said.
To keep critters from creeping back in, they even put in a new ceiling. There was also once a greenhouse attached to the school, but because the school is unsure if that may have been the source of the creepy crawlers, that’s been removed.
She also said crews took care of the stench of dead rodents.
"Part of them being in between concrete walls and falling into places is the smell, so there's a methodical process for the vendor to ensure those things are removed and cleaned up," Powers said.
Before renovations even got underway, all the pest problem was cleared up, and the district will still keep an eye out for more.
"We added six positions now, so people that their job is to wake up and think, 'What are we going to do to protect all of our buildings from something like this happening," Powers said.
School officials said they are confident the rodent nightmare is over, even though closed doors gave them the chance to make improvements that will make the overall learning experience better for students.
"I'm so excited for the kids," Principal Steevon Hunter said. "I can't wait to see the smiles on their face when they walk back into this space."
The school said they have been working with vendors and the health department, and they have the green light on everything. Hunter even said enrollment is up.
Besides a new ceiling, some of the improvements include upgrades to classroom technology, a full cafeteria makeover, new furniture and additions to the library and media room. They also did some painting at the school.