Central High School in Beaumont, Texas, will close after sustaining significant storm damage.

Beaumont (Texas) district will shutter storm-damaged high school

Jan. 20, 2018
Central High, which has been closed after sustaining damage from Hurricane Harvey, will not reopen.

Citing irreparable damage from Tropical Storm Harvey, the Beaumont (Texas) district has decided to close one of its three high schools.

The Beaumont Enterprise reports that Central High School in Beaumont will be shut down. Students will be moved to a merged school at the Ozen High School campus.

All staff positions from both campuses will be retained, Superintendent John Frossard says. 

A committee that includes students and teachers from both campuses will choose a new name, mascot and colors for the school. 

Ozen has 1,150 students, and Central has 1,309. The Ozen building can hold about 1,800 students, according to a consultant who assessed the capacity of all district buildings in the fall.

Beaumont needed to decide by the end of this month how many high schools it would operate next year to meet a deadline for alignment by the state's governing body for extracurricular activities.

The district has not yet decided how the Ozen campus will be modified to accommodate the additional students.

District officials say the larger campus will be able to offer more academic programs than the two separate campuses, which each currently have fewer course offerings than West Brook.

The decision to close Central comes after almost five months of assessing Central, which was built in 1901. The damage it sustained during Harvey exacerbated existing mold and air quality problems.

"I believe we've reached the point where we can't put more money into it," Frossard says.

The main building's roof, floors, sub-floors and plaster were all damaged, and significant parts would need to be replaced entirely. The district has already spent more than $3 million trying to control moisture and leaks in the building, he said, and he expects it would cost more than $19 million to restore it to an acceptable condition.

For the rest of the 2017-18 academic year, ninth-graders will be housed at a separate building on the Central campus. Sophomores through seniors are at the former Austin Middle School.

Frossard says maintaining the split campus was "not ideal" and recommended against moving Central to the Smith Middle School campus, as was previously proposed, because it may need to be used to address future middle school capacity issues.

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