After the destruction in 2017 of many coastal properties due to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria (HIM), the National Park Service (NPS) designated $12.3 million in federal funding to assist in damage recovery on significant historic properties within the state of Texas. The Texas Historic Commission (THC) was given oversight responsibilities to administer the grant program.
Since Aransas County ISD schools were ground zero for Hurricane Harvey; the devastation caused by the storm was unprecedented in our history. Elementary, middle and high school buildings, the auditorium, and administration facilities suffered extensive damages, including loss of entire structures. Adjusters estimated the damages at $54.5 million dollars (with a $2.5 million dollar deductible). No facilities were immediately inhabitable, so our students attended schools in neighboring districts until October 2017 while ACISD utilized emergency funds to purchase portable buildings and consolidated or repaired areas of campuses to provide interim facilities for displaced teachers and students. Because ACISD's central administration building was completely destroyed, the district moved administrative staff into Rockport School, a facility built in 1935 and recognized as Texas Historical Commission State Historic Site #13653. In November 2017, the district made that move permanent and assigned insurance funds allocated for the replacement of the administration building to Rockport School, which is approximately $1.5 million dollars. However, none of the insurance funds can be used for the windows and the auditorium seats.
Working as partners, the Aransas County Historical Commission (ACHC), the ACISD Education Foundation, and ACISD staff began the process to apply for the HIM funding. A preliminary site visit in April 2019 was conducted by members of the THC and NPS who met with Pam Stranahan & Pat Rousseau – ACHC, Suzanne Ransleben – ACISD Education Foundation, Joseph Patek, Norman Spears, and Thomas Lawing – ACISD, and restoration architect David Brown. The grant request was submitted to THC in May 2019. Notification was received from THC in July that the grant was favorably accepted. A second site visit was conducted October 24, 2019 when the team was notified that Rockport School is a finalist and strong contender for the first round of $250,000 grants to be awarded. Signed contracts should be in place by January 2020.
Pictured left to right: Hansel Hernandez, Lisa Hart and Thomas Lawing. Mr. Hernandez and Ms. Hart represent the Texas Historical Commission and will oversee the work performed and restoration grant.
The Education Foundation Exec. Director