West: FEMA and School District Make Plans To Rebuild

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email

WEST (October 17, 2013)--To say that West ISD Assistant Superintendent Jan Hungate is excited about the possibilities as West re-builds two schools would be an understatement.

"I'm so excited about this I just can't stand it," Hungate said Thursday.

West ISD board members and administrators met with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and their architects Wednesday night to begin to iron out just how to proceed with projects to build a new high school and a new combined intermediate and junior high school after the old buildings were destroyed in the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion.

Hungate said plans are on track and paperwork has been filed with government agencies that will get funds flowing to the district so actual work can begin.

Demolition of the damaged building is set to begin during the Thanksgiving break, she said.

If everything goes just right, the new buildings should be ready for students no later than January 2016.

"Our goal is to graduate just two classes from the portable buildings," Hungate said.

Those would be the classes of 2014 and 2015.

But Hungate's excitement is about far more than just replacing buildings.

She said the district is "visioning" the new space with an eye toward providing new era space for learning rather than just square rooms filled with rows of chairs.

Hungate said West school officials plan trips to other district and even to colleges as they make plans for the new building.

"Colleges have gotten it right," she said, with respect to forward thinking about the future of education.

She said planners already are thinking outside the box "to figure out what our learning spaces will look like," Hungate said.

She could not provide an estimate of the cost of the project because she says that is to be determined by the amount of funds the district will have to spend, and they don't know that yet.

The project is being planned by Huckaby Architects, of Fort Worth, the same firm that built the current high school building.

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