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Fire-damaged middle school can’t be repaired in time for start of classes, students will be moved

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 1:57 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2021 at 5:21 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Hundreds of G.W. Carver Middle School students will start classes next month at a different school than the one they expected to attend after a destructive early-morning fire Tuesday.

The heavily damaged 65-year-old building won’t be available for the start of the new school year and now officials have some planning to do before Carver’s 460 students report for class on Aug. 23 at Indian Spring Middle School.

Indian Spring, like G.W. Carver, is operated as an in-district charter by Transformation Waco.

“Please know that our minds and hearts are with our Carver family and the East Waco community, as we process the loss from this morning’s fire,” Transformation Waco CEO Dr. Robin McDurham said.

“While we haven’t worked out all of the details yet, we know that G.W. Carver students will have a welcoming place to learn at Indian Spring. They’ll have safe transportation to and from the school, and nutritious and delicious school meals will be waiting for them.”

Staff from the two campuses, and Transformation Waco and Waco ISD officials will continue working through the logistics of the move.

“I want to reassure everyone that while we’re coping with the loss of our historic campus, we’ll press forward,” said G.W. Carver Principal Dr. Isaac Carrier said.

“G.W. Carver Middle School is more than a building. It’s the people, and it’s the legacy that they carry with them each day. We will heal and thrive together. This coming school year will be different than we expected, but it can and will still be a great year,” he said.

Indian spring has a capacity of more than 900 students, but enrollment this fall is estimated at just more than 500.

“Our campus has plenty of space for both Bulldogs and Panthers. While we share the sadness that comes with the loss of a historic school building, we want our neighbors to know that they are welcome here,” Indian Spring principal Joseph Alexander said.

Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon

G.W. Carver families may visit Indian Spring and any other WISD campus this week for registration assistance.

Assistance will also be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at Carver Baptist Park.

Students may also be registered online.

Transformation Waco and the school district are working to arrange for counseling for G.W. Carver students and staff as well as community members who would like to talk to someone about the fire.

Services will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 4pm. on Wednesday and Thursday at the Estella Maxey Place Apartments at 1890 JJ Flewellen Rd.

Residents who want to help may donate gift cards to Transformation Waco, whose office is at 3005 Edna Ave. in Waco.

Electronic gift cards may be emailed to transformationwaco@wacoisd.org.

Crews working to extinguish a fire at a middle school.
Crews working to extinguish a fire at a middle school.(Clint Webb)

The fire broke out at around 1 a.m. Tuesday at the school in the 1600 block of JJ Flewellen Road.

The first Waco Fire Department crews on the scene saw heavy smoke coming from the school and after entering the front of the building encountered fire inside the front offices.

Nearly three-dozen firefighters battled the flames through the early morning hours and crews remained on the scene to watch for hot spots.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

Fire officials say the building was secured and there’s no evidence anyone was inside.

No injuries were reported.

A 60-member group of parents, educators and residents spent five months reviewing the district’s facilities and recommended earlier this month that the district replace G.W. Carver with a new school built at the same location.

The board recommended on-site replacements for Waco High School, Tennyson Middle School and Kendrick Elementary School, as well.

Waco School Board members could decide as early as August whether to order an election to seek voter approval on a proposed bond issue to fund the projects.

The fire was the second blow to the school’s students in a staff in a little more than a year.

The school’s principal, Phillip Perry, died of complications from COVID-19 on March 31, 2020, one of the earliest victims of the pandemic in Central Texas.

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