FIRE badly damaged a $400,000 school building that was constructed with federal stimulus money at East Maitland.
The building, only a few years old, was built in the federal government’s Building the Education Revolution program.
Police were yet to determine the cause of the fire, but did not believe arson was a factor.
The building was part of a Steiner educational establishment called Linuwel School in Morpeth Road, and included a library, IT area and staff room.
School principal Greig Scott said the staff room was badly damaged.
‘‘Teachers are obviously upset,’’ Mr Scott said.
‘‘They lost a lot of their gear.’’
The library and IT area were spared, but computers will have to be checked.
‘‘They may or may not be all right,’’ Mr Scott said.
The final damage bill is not yet known.
‘‘We hope most of the building will be salvaged,’’ Mr Scott said.
‘‘Less than a third of it was damaged.’’
Crime scene police attended the school yesterday to investigate the blaze.
‘‘They don’t think it was arson,’’ Mr Scott said.
‘‘It’s more likely an electrical fault, but we don’t know the cause.’’
It was unknown whether the fire was sparked by wiring in the walls or an appliance that may have been left on.
Central Hunter Police Acting Inspector Joanne Schultz said police had sought to ‘‘obtain a point of origin and cause’’.
‘‘It was inconclusive,’’ she said.
Firefighters contained the blaze after being called to the scene at about 9.10pm on Saturday.
A Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman said part of the building was ‘‘virtually destroyed’’.
‘‘We’re grateful it didn’t spread further,’’ Mr Scott said.
The school, which has about 200 pupils and 24 staff, was built on 0.4 hectares in tranquil surrounds.
Mr Scott said five staff used the damaged room and alternate arrangements would be made for them.
‘‘We will be able to carry on business as usual on Monday,’’ he said.