Nine schools will be relocated to different campuses, with three in such bad condition they likely will not open this year.
Nine schools will be relocated to different campuses, with three in such bad condition they likely will not open this year.
Photo by Joseph Fanelli

Update, 8 p.m.: After a two-week delay because of Hurricane Harvey, 202 of the 284 schools in the Houston Independent School District will begin the school year on Monday, HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza announced in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

The rest of the schools, including nine whose students will be relocated to different campuses for at least the start of the year, will begin on a rolling schedule, with start dates on Monday, September 18, and Monday, September 25.

The nine schools that are sending students to different locations this year are Scarborough Elementary, Hilliard Elementary, Robinson Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, Kolter Elementary, Braeburn Elementary, Askew Elementary, Burbank Middle School and Liberty High School. The students at those schools will start at new campuses on September 25. Carranza did not specify where students at the nine schools will be moved, but said the district will continue announcements as it works out the details.

At least three of the nine schools, which Carranza would not specify yet, will likely be closed for the entire school year because of extensive damage.

A list of schools and their status is on the HISD website, with updates to that list coming as the district continues evaluation and preparation of the nearly 300 school and administration buildings affected by Harvey.

"The message is clear; for 202 schools, as of this press conference, you do start school on Monday, September 11," Carranza said while flanked by members of the district's Board of Trustees.

The word of the news conference was "flexibility." HISD had already announced relaxed rules on its uniform policy, and added on Thursday that enrollment for students displaced from their homes will be sensitive to families and their current situations. Students won't be required to attend their home schools if their families were forced to move to another part of the city because of the storm. Also, students who may need to stay home to watch younger siblings as parents return to work will also be given leniency by the district and its principals.

HISD officials are in contact with city shelters, including the George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Park, to determine how many students are in shelters and how to transport them to school.

Carranza said the district has already contacted the Texas Education Agency and been granted waivers to excuse the time students missed because of Harvey, and said it will continue talks with the state's education branch about topics such as softening standards for the state-issued STAAR tests and funding because of possible enrollment declines.

Already, the bill for HISD from Harvey cleanup is steep. Carranza said Harvey has cost the district roughly $700 million, an amount he hopes to pay down through insurance claims, FEMA grants and possible state aid. As he has done at several press appearances in the past week, he made a plea to the Texas Legislature to use the state's economic stabilization fund, more commonly known as the "rainy day fund."

For families still with housing situations in flux, Carranza stressed communication. Parents should contact schools and principals and continue to check the HISD website, as well as its Twitter and Facebook accounts, for more information.

"Communicate, communicate, communicate," he said. "The school has to know your circumstances."

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