Students, Staff, Teachers Scramble To Prepare For Displaced West Students

Students, staff and teachers were moving furniture, painting and tidying up Friday to prepare for hundreds of West ISD students from schools damaged by the massive fertilizer plant explosion.

One of the double-wide portable buildings in which West sixth grade students will attend class beginning on Monday. (Photo by Rachel Cox)

WACO (April 19, 2013)—Connally ISD teachers, staff and students were scrambling Friday to prepare for the hundreds of West middle and high school students who will begin attending classes Monday in Connally’s old intermediate school building.

The deadly fertilizer explosion Wednesday night damaged West’s intermediate, middle and high schools, all of which were in the blast zone.

Under a plan that West Superintendent Marty Crawford announced Thursday evening, students in grades 7 through 12 will finish the school year in the temporary quarters provided by the Connally ISD while pre-K through 6th grade students will attend class at West Elementary School, which wasn’t damaged.

Friday morning, Connally ISD staff members, teachers and students, some wearing letter jackets, were hard at work moving file cabinets, desks, chairs, computers and other furnishings into classrooms in the old intermediate school.

Surrounding districts including the Waco ISD donated the furnishings and other classroom equipment, but school supplies are still needed.

The Spring ISD is lending West buses to transport the students to the school and the Grand Prairie ISD provided three double-wide portable buildings, which will be used for 6th grade classes on the West Elementary school campus.

The Bosqueville ISD will provide food services next week for the West ISD teachers and staff who make the move to the school.

At the old intermediate school Friday, teachers were painting classrooms, and one man was even painting over the Connally Intermediate School sign near the school’s doorway.

The building was closed two years ago after the district expanded its junior high school.

Connally ISD Superintendent said it was simply the right thing to do.

“They are our neighbor, and just like any other group of professionals, educators help educators and we would want our kids to start school Monday morning and also we know that Dr. Crawford would want to the same for his kids,” she said.

Some of the logistics remained to be worked out, Crawford said Thursday, but under the plan, students in grades 7 through 10 will attend class in the Connally ISD’s old intermediate school building; 11th grade students will be moved to a wing of the east campus of Connally High School, and seniors will attend classes in Connally’s multipurpose building.

West ISD teachers and staff will move with the students, Crawford said, to provide as much consistency as possible during the last 30 days of the school year.

The district is working with the Texas Education Agency, which Crawford said is willing to be flexible about STAAR testing, which was to have started next Tuesday.

“It’s going to be an adventure for all of us,” Crawford said.

Updated details will be posted on the district’s website.

(West ISD Website )

(Connally ISD Website)

The explosion Wednesday night heavily damaged the district’s intermediate school building, which may be beyond repair, Crawford said.

The 90-year-old main building of the district’s middle school also sustained heavy damage and there are concerns about the structural integrity of the high school, which is the district’s newest facility, Crawford said.

No one was in any of the three damaged schools at the time of the explosion, Crawford said.

“We were very fortunate that God was looking out for us,” he said.

Crawford said as far as he knows, all school staff members have been accounted for, but he said the district is concerned about whether some of its students may have been injured in the blast.

“We are uncertain right now,” he said.

The district cancelled all remaining athletic events this week, but said they will resume next week.

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(West ISD Website )

(Connally ISD Website)

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