At its board meeting on Nov. 14, Humble ISD Trustees officially approved the option to rebuild Kingwood High School within its current configuration with some significant modifications. The target date to reopen the school for classes is March 19, 2018. The magnitude of the damage, the costs of recovery, and the challenges of future flood threats all contributed to the evaluation suggesting a wide range of alternatives. Prior to voting for the recommended option, Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen reviewed all four of the final options created by the Kingwood Planning Committee and the district administration for consideration.
She said, “A Kingwood High School team convened together and while everyone else worked on resuming school for the other (district) facilities, that team looked at all the possibilities for how Kingwood High School could remain Kingwood High School and preserve the culture, the tradition and the excellence of all the things we have known and love about our school.”
Fagen explained how the team launched the project by seeking feedback from the families and residents of the area served by the high school. She noted that it took 45 days just to dry out the facility so that they could completely evaluate the damage. The insurance adjuster initially predicted it would take $35-$45 million to repair the school, but shortly thereafter, the estimates of the repairs were just short of $53 million, on top of the $10.5 million it cost just to dry out the building and remove the contents and debris.
“Once you get to a number like that, you really take a deep look at the next steps forward,” Fagan said and explained that they looked at four different options before making the final recommendation. The options were:
- Option 1: “Straight Put Back.” Rebuild it exactly as it had been before the storm. This is the fastest and least expensive option, but there was no consideration for flood mitigation and no facility improvements. The cost estimate is $67.8 million.
- Option 1 A: “Modified Straight Put Back.” It is the Straight Put Back Option with some significant modifications and some flood mitigation considerations. This option is just as fast as Option 1 to complete and includes a new competition gym raised to minimize flooding, new athletic field turf, and new modified fine arts facilities. As a result of raising those areas, there would be some flood mitigation. Cost is estimated to be $77.8 million.
- Option 2: “New Level One.” The option would raise the old “Level One” area of the multi-level school to a point above the flood plain. The academic classroom areas would be completed in March but the athletic fields and fine arts facilities would not be completed until a later time and would result in not having those activities on campus for an extended period of time. There would also be serious vehicle parking challenges. The cost to do this option is estimated at $135 million, which would require a bond approval. However, it would provide significant flood mitigation and would provide a sense of a whole new facility. The earliest target date to bring the athletic and fine arts programs back to the campus would be late in the 2019-2020 school year.
- Option 3: “All New KHS.” Replace the present structure with an all-new facility to maximize flood mitigation considerations. Estimated cost is $227 million and the facility would not be completed until the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Fagen closed her presentation with a strong recommendation from the Kingwood Team and the district’s administrative and facilities groups to select the “Modified Straight Put Back” option. A question was asked of Fagen about how the claims process and recovery of monies for storm damage was proceeding.
She said, “The way I understand our current situation is that insurance will pay what I call their “stop loss number” where they are maxed out. We have received some insurance payments; I believe $7 million was one check. We believe the next 90 percent will come from FEMA. We are working toward that and are staying in compliance with that.” Fagen added that the State of Texas has indicated repeatedly that they plan to take $2 billion from the rainy day fund to apply to getting all of the affected Texas school districts recovered.
The trustees unanimously approved the Modified Straight Put Back option. The project is expected to proceed immediately and on schedule.
School board meetings are normally held at 7 p.m., the second Tuesday of each month at the Humble ISD Administration Building, 20200 Eastway Village Dr., open to the public and agendas are posted on the district website: humbleisd.net.