Students at Kingwood High School will not have classes at their home campus this year. They will go to school at Summer Creek High School for the 2017-18 year. Hurricane Harvey brought a ravaging storm to the community, dumping between three and four feet in the area. Kingwood High School was flooded.

Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, superintendent, said in the face of the "indescribable destruction," district officials met to discuss all conceivable options. They focused on three thoughts:  keep the Kingwood High School tradition, keep the student body together and come up with an option that allowed for fine arts, athletic and extra curricular activities to continue.

The decision was announced to the public at noon today, Sept. 2. 

KHS will hold class at Summer Creek High School. The students, faculty and staff of both Kingwood and Summer Creek high schools are asked to submit their preference of two options:  Option A will offer a split day, with one high school body attending from 7 to 11:30 every day with the second shift being noon to 4:30 p.m.  Option B splits the week, with one school attending MondayWednesday and Friday, the other TuesdayThursday and Saturday.

Under either option, the district will provide transportation to Summer Creek High School. 

Emails and letters have gone out to each of those school's families, asking that they let the district know their preference by 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3.

"We looked at every scenario. We asked for every idea anyone on the study team had. After long and exhaustive discussions, the only viable option is to split Summer Creek," she said.

"It is not perfect but we are facing an unprecedented situation. We know not everyone will be happy but we are moving forward with the best possible options we could come up with. We talked about everything. It is a huge decision and we discussed every single thing we could and would do if viable," she said. 

The first day of school for these two campuses is Monday, Sept. 11. All other Humble ISD schools will have Thursday, Sept. 7 as their first day.

Option B must be approved by the Texas Education Agency, which has made it known to the district that they prefer scattering the Kingwood students among all the other high schools.

"To us, that is not an option. We want the Kingwood students to be able to stay together."

The TEA can force the issue and require the students be split among Humble, Kingwood Park, Atascocita and Summer Creek high school campuses. This is something the district will face, if necessary.

"We want the Kingwood students to be together, preserve core classes and electives and the extracurricular activities - to have their band, their football teams, their choirs together. We don't want Kingwood students in red, green and purple football uniforms. We also want to start school as soon as reasonably feasible," she said. 

Options discussed were numerous, Fagen said, including leasing space somewhere in Kingwood, asking to use existing community buildings, bringing in portables, and rearranging the entire district organization.

"There is no room for portables on the Kingwood campus, especially considering that workers will be there for repair and renovations. Leasing or borrowing space would require enormous reorganization. We looked at the idea of pushing all sixth graders down to elementaries and all freshmen to middle schools. 

"All of these options would have required disrupting all of Humble ISD, completely redoing the schedules of all the students and would have taken three to four weeks to organize. The transportation department also cannot accommodate these types of scenarios. 

"The team felt it was most necessary to get kids back to school as soon as possible. And the only way to do that was to use our largest facility," she said. "Most options would have required disrupting the entire school district and delaying the start of school for three to four weeks, at least. We decided that was not the right path," she said. 

"We are particularly sensitive to the senior class. We want them together and to have the best possible experience we can provide under the circumstances. 

"We did not want to take the freshmen out of their high school their first year. And we certainly did not want to discontinue any extra curricular activities, which would have been necessary under many of the options discussed.

"There is no perfect option but we are doing the best with what we have in front of us," she said. 

Students, staff and faculty are being asked to send their feedback soon, by 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3

Kingwood High School has an estimated $10 million in needed repairs. Fagen said the district has insurance, with a hefty deductible of $500,000 although the circumstances around this sort of natural catastrophe will be determined in the days ahead.

"We have money set aside to pay the deductible. We have money in savings for this and other potential disasters. We have enough money to go ahead and start ordering equipment and supplies and to be able to wait for reimbursement," she said. 

It will take a year to make the repairs, she said.

The second floor of Kingwood High School suffered as much as two feet of flood water.  

"When I left the campus last night around 10:45 p.m., they were taking the fifteenth truck load of water out. And there is still water in there," she said.

 A video of the damage is available at humbleisd.net/Page/97624.

"The water is horrible. The air conditioners are not good. We are not even sure the chillers are operational. You cannot imagine how bad it is. People that went in said they could never have imagined how terrible it is if they had not seen it with their own eyes. All the orchestra instruments were ruined. Last night, we were carrying the band's tubas out filled with water. The athletic turf rose with the water and is laying in a pile on the ground. The gym floor is floating in four feet of water. The book room is destroyed. There was at least a foot of water on the theater stage and all the seats are soaked.

"All the doors are swollen and we had to break down many just to get inside them. The walls are coming apart, there is a slippery soot everywhere and it smells horrible.

"The swimming pool is full of rancid water. The debris pushed the fences down around the athletic fields," she said.

Professionals already on the scene disconnected all power to the school and have brought in generators, which will stay for months providing the power to the restoration crews. 

The orchestra pit in the theater was filled completely with water. Records, documents and some memorabilia can be saved, perhaps, as the district has found a company that specializes in document recover and restoration.

As for the school's photos, trophies and photos, Fagen said they will be saved to the extent possible. Nothing wooden can be salvaged but she has given directives to the restoration company to inventory everything and save as much as possible.

"Yesterday, we had a team in there pulling out as much as they could get to of Kingwood's cultural heritage. Pictures of state teams, trophies, everything we could physically reach, was taken out to be salvaged," she said. 

Fagen said that every Humble ISD school was assessed for damage and her team met at 6 p.m. last night to plan. The instructional support center on Magnolia Glen is also devastated but employees working there will be assigned to other facilities during renovations. 

"All our facilities are ready, except Kingwood High and the ISC. We have about 15 percent of employees who cannot return to work by Tuesday, Sept. 5, so they are asked to work directly with their supervisors," she said.  

Staff is to report Tuesday, Sept. 5, and the students on Thursday, Sept. 7, giving teachers time to prepare in the light of the situation. 

The good news, Fagen said, is that every, save for KHS and the ISC, facility is ready. 

"Our IT apps for instruction are operating and we are on the way to getting back to school and back to some sense of normal," she said.

Everyone is on deck, working non stop, to address problems. 

"It's a challenge. We have 2,700 kids at Kingwood to take care of. We were most concerned with keeping them together and maintaining the Kingwood High School community," she said.

Social media has many asking what they can do to help, if a volunteer team can be utilized, but Fagen said this is not really an option.

"The amount of destruction there needs a professional effort. I am aware of the many groups and teachers who are organizing donations and 'adoptions' of schools and groups and they absolutely should go ahead. We need everyone, but the scope of the destruction at Kingwood High School is beyond anything volunteers can take on," she said. 

Fagen also acknowledged the emotional strain of the situation, saying the best situation for the kids is to be with their friends and going back to school. 

"The first days of school are challenging without a hurricane. But we are in a good place, we feel, and together, we are going to have a good year," she said.

Over the past week, our community has seen both devastating losses and awe-inspiring expressions of concern. We are united behind one cause - to rescue, help and heal those hurt by Harvey! 

Option A: 

SCHS classes meet in the mornings; KHS classes meet in the afternoons at SCHS. Monday-Friday schedule.

Details:

  • SCHS classes meet from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • KHS classes meet from Noon to 4:30 p.m.
  • Breakfast will be available at SCHS campus.
  • Lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as an option for students after classes conclude or before classes begin. Students are not required to remain on campus during lunch.
  • Bus transportation to and from SCHS is offered to all KHS students.
  • Seven-period day.
  • Classes are about 34 minutes in length.
  • First day of school for students is Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
  • There are no late arrival or early release days.
  • Planning time for teachers is after school at SCHS and before school at KHS.

Advantages:

  • KHS student body, faculty and staff remain united as one school community.
  • All courses and activities offered.
  • Students can remain in classes they originally selected.
  • Adequate, free parking for all KHS and SCHS students who apply for a permit.
  • Additional support for students. Having faculty from two high schools on the same campus, but with different teaching hours, will provide opportunities for teachers to tutor, share expertise, and provide classroom coverage when needed.

Disadvantages:

  • Up to a 45-minute bus ride for KHS students.
  • Traffic congestion between 11:30 to Noon during dismissal and arrival.
  • Requires shorter day for SCHS and KHS students. The campus must run a morning school and an afternoon school because there is not enough space for 2,782 students of KHS and 2,231 students of SCHS – 5,013 students in total -- to be in classes simultaneously.
  • Potential changes to extracurricular/activity practice.

Option B:
SCHS classes meet MondayWednesdayFriday full day. 
KHS classes meet Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday full day at SCHS.

-- Details:

  • Classes meet 7:15 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.
  • Seven period day.
  • Classes are about 55 minutes in length.
  • Bus transportation to and from SCHS is offered to all KHS students.
  • First day of school for students is Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
  • There are no late arrival or early release days.
  • Planning time for teachers is on days when SCHS or KHS classes do not meet. 

Advantages:

  • KHS student body, faculty and staff remain united as one school community.
  • All courses and activities offered.
  • Students can remain in classes they originally selected.
  • 55–minutes per class period.
  • Adequate, free parking for all KHS and SCHS students who apply for a permit.
  • Additional support for students. Having faculty from two high schools on the same campus, but with different teaching days, will provide opportunities for teachers to tutor, share expertise, and provide classroom coverage when needed.

 Disadvantages:

  • TEA approval required.
  • Up to a 45 minute bus ride for KHS students.
  • Potential changes to extracurricular/activity practice.
  • Students not in classes on campus part of the week. The campus must run a Monday-Wednesday-Friday school and a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday school because there is not enough space for 2,782 students of KHS and 2,231 students of SCHS – 5,013 students in total -- to be in classes simultaneously.

The district has provided a Frequently Asked Questions list:

Q. If KHS is going to share with another campus, why can't it be Kingwood Park High School since it is closer?

This was the first consideration; however, KPHS does not have the capacity to hold all KHS students. KPHS was built for 1,600 students. Kingwood Park High School’s 5A campus cannot fit 2,782 students.

Q. Why can't AHS serve KHS students?

There are more than 3,500 students at AHS. Traffic in the parking lot and along West Lake Houston Parkway, especially at arrival and dismissal times, makes it unrealistic to bring another 2,782 students onto campus.

Q. Can't we just bring in portable buildings?

There are no portable buildings available. KHS would require at least 50 portable buildings for classrooms. January is the earliest that Humble ISD could receive any, and supplies are even more limited than before due to the increased demand brought on by Hurricane Harvey. 

Housing an entire school in portable buildings presents the following logistical challenges:

  • Physical space to put 50 portable buildings
  • Lack of bathroom facilities
  • Lack of kitchen facilities to provide meals
  • Difficulty in meeting specialized needs such as science labs, fine arts classrooms, and career tech classrooms  


Q. How will Kingwood High School students get to and from Summer Creek High School?

Bus transportation to and from SCHS will be provided to all KHS students. 

Q. Can Kingwood High School students park at Summer Creek High School?

Yes, there is enough parking for all students.

Q. How long will Kingwood High School be displaced?

It could take the full school year to restore Kingwood High School. 

Q. Will meals be available?

Breakfast will be served to SCHS students prior to classes starting at 7 a.m. The cafeteria will serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all students to have lunch on campus.

 Q. If schools are splitting their schedule, do teachers still work full time?

Yes. Principals will be providing details to all staff. 

 Q. Can I transfer to a different campus?

The International Baccalaureate Program at Humble High School is accepting applications. All other campuses are full.

Cynthia Calvert
Author: Cynthia CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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A trained journalist with a masters degree from Lamar University, a masters from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, as well as extensive coursework toward a masters of science in psychology from the University of New Orleans, Calvert founded the Tribune Newspapers in 2007. Her experiences as an investigative, award winning reporter (She won Journalist of the Year from the Houston Press Club among many other awards for reporting and writing), professor and chair of the journalism department for Lone Star College-Kingwood and vice president of editorial for a large group of community weeklies provides her with a triple dose of bankable skills that cover every aspect of the journalism field. Solid reporting. Careful interviews. Respect and curiosity for people and places.

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