The Houston Independent School District Board of Education during its December meeting on Thursday approved a plan to rebuild four elementary schools that sustained the most severe flood damage as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
Facilities assessments of the four elementary schools — Braeburn, Scarborough, Kolter, and Mitchell — found significant property damage, as well as a strong need to raise the elevation of the buildings to prevent potential future flood damage.
The cost to replace the four schools is estimated at $126 million, which will be funded by a combination of Operations reserves and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) funds.
“The damage to these four buildings was catastrophic,” Superintendent Richard Carranza said. “Our Chief Operating Officer and his team looked at them and believed it would be the most effective use of HISD resources to tear down and rebuild. We look forward to getting these students back into their home campuses that will be better-equipped to sustain major storms in the future.”
The proposal trustees approved calls for the four schools to be demolished and rebuilt at their current sites. The plan requires the students and staff to remain in their current temporary locations until new facilities can be reconstructed at their original location. Those new facilities could be completed and open to students in 2020.
Three additional HISD schools — Robinson and Hilliard elementary schools and Liberty High School — were also relocated as a result of the damage sustained during Hurricane Harvey.
Renovations at the original Robinson Elementary are wrapping up this month, and students are expected to return to their home campus when they return from winter break on Jan. 8. Renovations at Hilliard are ongoing. District officials opted to renovate both schools because of the age and sustainability of both buildings.
Liberty High School had been located in a facility leased but not owned by HISD. The school was temporarily relocated to Sharpstown International School. District administrators now are reviewing long-term relocation options for the campus.
Also during the December meeting, the HISD Foundation announced a $4.7 million grant from Aramco Services Company for Harvey relief. The gift is designated for seven schools: Robinson, Scarborough, Hilliard, Braeburn, Kolter, and Mitchell elementary schools and Liberty High School.
Each school will receive a tech package worth $400,000 that includes laptops, iPads, and more. As part of the grant, Aramco will also fund needs for each school up to $300,000. Those needs include, but are not limited to books, instructional supplies, tutoring services, and professional development for teachers.