By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Lufkin ISD Maintenance Director Morty Halyard says it only took one minute in a morning board meeting to declare Hackney Primary School an emergency area.
"Well sure it was a great disappointment," Halyard said. "We were approximately three weeks out from completion and ready for a grand opening and dedication ceremony and we're pretty much going to have to start over."
Although renovations were nearly finished, the disaster declaration will allow them to start over much faster.
"It allows us to expedite the repair process without going through some bid processes normally required within state law," Halyard said.
Without this declaration, he says it would be a long time before students would be able to come back.
"We would completely have to start from scratch with advertisements and hiring an architect and engineering firm, then soliciting construction managers and do bid documents which takes us a considerable amount of time," Halyard said.
So the contractors working on the schools renovations will now also fix what the tornado destroyed.
"By doing this as an emergency, we can by and large keep our contractors on site just increase their scope of work and then follow the insurance company guidelines as they estimate what are damages really are," Halyard said.
For the teachers at Hackney, it means packing up what's left of their rooms and moving into a temporary classroom where the children can learn.
"We have to do what we have to do, you know," teacher Lorita Davis said. "It's cold and we have to get our stuff back to Slack so we can get ready for the kids."
"Yes, it's going to be different, but I think the kids ... it's going to be okay," teacher Patricia Woods said.
"It's still devastating, yes, but we'll move on, we have to move on for the children," Principal Shirley Jolley said.
Today they leave behind what's familiar, but look forward to coming back a lot sooner.
"There's no place like home," Davis said. "Even though we're welcome at Slack and all of that, but it's good to be home, you know, this is our home."
The district will keep cost for tornado damage and previously-approved renovations separate.
Halyard said the tornado damage alone is expected to cost around $1 million. Also, if your child currently walks to Hackney, they can now ride the bus to Slack, you just need to contact the LISD Transportation Department.