Kingwood High School in Kingwood, Texas, which sustained severe damage earlier this year from Hurricane Harvey, is expected to reopen by mid-March, officials with the Humble school district have announced.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the progress on repairs and construction in the academic wings of the school will enable the district to send Kingwood's 2,800 students back to their home campus on March 19.
Updated estimates to repair the building and replace materials at Kingwood now exceed $70 million.
Since the hurricane displaced them, students from Kingwood have shared space at Summer Creek High School. Kingwood is the largest Texas campus that remains shuttered due to storm damage.
The reopening timeline was disclosed on the same day U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos toured Summer Creek and Kingwood high schools.
"It was great to see how students here are sharing school space, and how their education continues, and how flexible and creative all of this district has been," DeVos said.
Initial projections for building repairs at Kingwood were pegged at about $35 miliion to $40 million, but Humble School Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen says the estimated price tag jumped to about $68.7 million once more concrete calculations were made. District officials expect all costs will be paid with money from insurers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state government.
The $68.7 million estimate doesn't include the price of replacing furniture, textbooks, supplies, band instruments and other items used by students.
The Humble district is moving forward with two new projects at Kingwood that likely won't be covered by state or federal funding: construction of a new gymnasium above the site's floodplain, and installation of field turf for athletics and performing arts. The school's existing primary gym sits below the site floodplain, and the main athletic field is grass.
The two projects would add another $10 million in costs. District officials plan to use reserve funds to cover costs, with hopes of getting reimbursed through future school bonds.
DeVos also visited schools in Port Aransas, a city about 200 miles southwest of Houston that was directly hit by the hurricane's strong winds.
VIDEO: Flood damage at Kingswood High (Humble School District YouTube)