West I.S.D. looks to move forward after FEMA's decision - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

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West I.S.D. looks to move forward after FEMA's decision

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FEMA's recent decision to deny the city of West aid for the April 17th fertilizer plant explosion has not prevented West I.S.D. from moving forward in the school district's plan to reconstruct. The city had hoped to use some of the FEMA aid money to help the local schools affected by the explosion.

West I.S.D.'s Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford says that despite the recent decision by FEMA, he still wants to be fair to the students and return them to a sense of normalcy next school year.

"The 1967 gym is the only remaining of five gyms. That needs to be up and running by the start of school for volleyball and basketball season, pep rallies, places for kids to assemble in large groups," Crawford said.

West I.S.D. plans to have students on their campuses by August, and is working on "phase one" of the reconstruction process, which includes demolishing most of West Middle School.

Three buildings will be renovated including the gym, but the remaining buildings will be replaced by temporary facilities. The temporary and portable units will hold 750 students from West High School and West Middle School.

The reconstruction project had an initial estimate that totaled to about $16 million dollars, but thanks to donations from some Central Texas school districts, such as Killeen and Midway I.S.D., as well as others from around the state, the financial burden won't be as much.

"Districts across the state has thrown a lot of support our way. Whether it be temporary facilities or building the ramps for those facilities or allowing us to rent a campus," Crawford said. "Folks understand when kids need the help they certainly come through. That's what Texas did for us."

Dr. Crawford added that the school district plans to pay for "phase one" using money they expect to receive from an insurance settlement. But he knows that money won't be enough to cover future reconstruction costs, so he is optimistic that FEMA will come in to help.

"We have not been told 'We are not going to speak with you guys or work with you guys.' So we are still in a lot of conversation with FEMA and certainly the folks we have been dealing with as a school district still seem optimistic about our opportunities here with the schools," Crawford said.

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