Rebuilding After Harvey: Port Aransas ISD Preparing To Reopen

Sep 29, 2017

In Port Aransas, schools are out, but not for summer. Port Aransas ISD’s three schools are still closed due to damage from hurricane Harvey. That leaves students to attend classes elsewhere.  In the third part of our Rebuilding After Harvey series, we take a brief look at the Port Aransas Schools system and what administrators are doing to reopen.

The new school year for Port Aransas ISD started on August 21, but it was short lived. Three days later, the island community was under a mandatory evacuation order. When the storm passed, the elementary, middle and high school were unusable.

Port A ISD Superintendent Sharon McKinney
Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio

“We have roofs that are severely damaged. We have water that got into the buildings. We have a lot of flooring that has to be replaced,” said superintendent Sharon McKinney.

She expects to have school back in session by Monday October 16th.

This week, portable classrooms began arriving.

McKinney says although schools will still be under repairs in mid-October, she wants the district’s 500 students to be able to return to class in their own town as soon as possible.

“Hopefully our elementary and high school just be in portable buildings for a couple of months maybe middle school might take a little longer. That building just received more damage.”

In the meantime, students are attending classes at nearby districts like Flour Bluff ISD and Gregory-Portland ISD.

To keep teachers and staff paid while the schools are closed, McKinney says the Port Aransas school board approved keeping the payroll moving.

“Which for me has been such a relief to make sure that I can tell every employee whether we're open or closed you're going to get your paycheck you're going to keep getting paid,” she said.

It’s not just the buildings. The district’s eight school busses were damaged by saltwater. Last weekend, the North East Independent School District in San Antonio gifted four busses to Port Aransas ISD an especially useful gift, since students need to leave the island each day to get to their temporary schools.