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Rebuilding After Harvey: Port Aransas ISD Preparing To Reopen

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
The offices of Port A ISD outside the district's high school

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, and students have to attend classes elsewhere. In the third part of our "Rebuilding After Harvey" series, we take a brief look at the Port Aransas school system and what administrators are doing to reopen it.

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 schools were unusable.

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

“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. Saltwater damaged the district’s eight school buses. Last weekend, the North East Independent School District in San Antonio gifted four buses to Port Aransas ISD -- an especially useful gift, since students need to leave the island each day to get to their temporary schools. 

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules