Glendale — With 95% of restoration at Nicolet High School complete, the most important thing missing was the student body.
On Monday, about 1,200 students returned to classes in style after floods in late July damaged more than 80% of the building.
Faculty, staff and administrators continued the tradition of rolling out a red carpet for new students as they entered the building shortly after 7 a.m.
Inside, brand-new floors glistened, the smell of new carpeting filled the air and freshly dusted trophies lined the newly cleaned display cases. With only a few wall-coverings left to be installed, the hallways were sparkling.
Inside his office, Superintendent Rick Monroe held meetings around a small coffee table, which will have to suffice until a new conference table arrives.
More than a month ago, contaminated storm water flowed through the vents and windows of rooms near the front of the building, destroying most of the office furniture.
Today, the desk that sits in Monroe's office is rented - like most of the staff furniture - and cardboard boxes line the walls in lieu of filing cabinets. No important records were destroyed.
And as if it wasn't hard enough to operate out of cardboard boxes, the flexible Nicolet staff dealt with a revised schedule Monday, shuffling kids through 25-minute periods.
"Is it third hour or fifth?" a student asked Monroe as the two passed in the hallway.
"Fifth," Monroe replied.
Because freshmen didn't have a chance to tour the building and find their classes before the first day, the class of 2014 started just after 7 a.m. and cycled through its schedules, stopping at each class for about 10 minutes, Monroe said.
At 10 a.m., students in all grades began the shortened schedule - making it a second go-around for the incoming students.
The staggered Monday lineup was just one of several adjustments made to the school calendar to deal with the delay. To make up for days lost, three days will be added to the end of the year and two days normally reserved as "record days" for teachers will be normal school days.
The changes in scheduling won't have a great effect on teachers and completing curriculum, Monroe said, with the exception of Advanced Placement courses, because the testing happens in mid-May before three of the makeup days occur.
Despite the changes in the school's schedule, Monroe said the building restoration was "worth the wait," as noted on the back of the T-shirts students were given in homeroom to commemorate this year's unusual delay.
The total cost of repairs is estimated at more than $6 million, most of which is covered by insurance.
Among the building's upgrades are a new stage, new flooring in the dance studio, a rewired telephone system and a refurbished boys locker room, which had more than 5 feet of water. The gym floor, which had at least 2 inches of standing water, is slated to be finished in two weeks, and new boilers are set to arrive in early October.