The majority of Texas students who lost class time because their schools were damaged by Hurricane Harvey have been able to return to their classrooms. That includes students in the Beaumont Independent School District. The district reopened all of its campuses on September 13th. But for those attending Beaumont Central High, that step back into normalcy was short-lived.
This week, most of that campus was closed again after the discovery of rain damage so dire that there’s talk of abandoning Central High and starting from scratch.
Liz Teitz, an education reporter for the Beaumont Enterprise, describes what happens to the hundreds of kids who go to this major high school in a not-so-small Texas town.
Central is located in a residential neighborhood near the old downtown area in Beaumont and has about 1,000 students. Although first cleared by environmental inspectors, Teitz says issues were later found inside the school after the area experienced ongoing rain. Inspectors came back for a second evaluation, and after finding water dripping, along with ventilation hiccups, they decided to shut down the campus.
Central High School is a ‘legacy’ building that has undergone many renovations. Teitz says the district is unsure if the building’s issues were created or exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey.
The school’s students will be transferred to other campuses: Freshman will stay at the undamaged areas of the Central campus while sophomores, juniors and seniors will move to a campus that was once a middle school and now only runs special programs.
Many Central students are frustrated and concerned about potential health implications after being inside Central High for seven days without knowing about the damage. They also wonder how seniors will make up the days of class they’ve missed.
“They’ve missed I think 17 days of classes so far and so that raises questions for getting courses done and seniors graduating on time,” Teitz says.
She says the district is juggling a few options such as renovating Central High, scrapping the whole building and starting over, or even merging other campuses. She says it’s too early to call, the district is still calculating how much each of these options will cost.
Written by Dani Matias.