The school board president of West Independent School District says about half the district’s 1,463 students will return to school Monday, but at a different school, in a different district. That’s because three of West ISD’s four schools suffered damage from Wednesday’s explosion.
West School Board president Larry Hykel says fellow trustees decided in an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to keep West’s pre-K through 6th grade students in the district’s lone functioning school, West Elementary.
“The elementary school is what we have and it’s open. We’re going to play the cards we’re dealt.”
The rest of the students, in grades 7 through 12, will be bused to a nearby, available Connally ISD school, “ten minutes away.”
Hykel says the now-vacant Connally Intermediate School has a cafeteria, 14 classrooms, and space for other activities.
“And the good thing is it’s one of our closest neighboring districts. Not to leave any of them out. I can tell you this right now. Every neighboring school district around here is offering or helping in some form or fashion. It’s an unbelievable act that they’re all producing for us over here.”
Zayne Warren, for one, does not want to go anywhere else. The 18 year-old West High Junior says he doesn’t want to graduate from a district he’s not from.
“I want to graduate here. They said they might be splitting up some of the kids. We don’t need that. We have to have kids together for more support.”
Hykel basically says he has no choice. The general contractor knows something about construction, and calls West Intermediate School (grades 4,5) unusable. “It’s a no-go. Permanently. It is done.”
As for West Middle and West High School, he says the damage cannot yet be determined.
“We don’t know for sure, we can’t get in there. They’re not allowing us one block passed the north side of town. We are not allowed to get into our homes or anything off these areas, plus three campuses.”
Hykel says his school board’s task is to see kids finish this last month of school, even if it means bussing half of them to neighboring Connally. He called the task of moving them and readying the Connally campus - in a matter of days - “astronomical.” But what he says the district really needs, what the people of West really need most are ‘your prayers.’
“We need that.”