Columbus City Schools officials say they aren't sure whether Stewart Alternative Elementary School will reopen in time for the first day of school Aug. 25.

Columbus City Schools officials say they aren't sure whether Stewart Alternative Elementary School will reopen in time for the first day of school Aug. 25.

An early morning fire, which police say they believe is arson, badly damaged the German Village school, 40 Stewart Ave., Thursday. Police took into custody a person who was found inside the school when the blaze was discovered. That person's name was not released as of Friday afternoon.

Battalion Chief Mark DeVine of the Columbus Division of Fire said crews arrived at 1:40 a.m. and extinguished the blaze in about 20 minutes. No one was injured, he said. He described the damage as extensive. The fire was set the storage room of a first-floor classroom and swept through the hallway and up the second floor.

Damage was evident to passersby Friday afternoon, as the stench of smoke filled the air. Several windows were boarded up, scorched debris was scattered across the asphalt and fans whirled in the doorways.

District spokeswoman Kim Norris said if Stewart isn't ready to open by Aug. 25, students temporarily would be reassigned to nearby schools.

Kindergarten teacher Deirdre McDaniel stopped by Friday to assess the damage.

"I don't know when we're supposed to get our stuff out," said McDaniel, who added that all school personnel, other than administrators, were barred from entering the building.

She said she had been preparing her classroom for the past couple of weeks, getting ready for the Jumpstart to Kindergarten program.

Former student Brandon Bryant rode his bike past the school Friday afternoon.

"We saw it on the news and my dad said I should go look at it," said the sixth-grader at Arts Impact Middle School.

He isn't happy with what he saw.

"I don't like that anybody burned the school," he said.

For more on this story, see the Aug. 5 edition of the ThisWeek German Village.