The Vidor Independent School District (VISD) was dealt some lemons four years ago when Hurricane Harvey flooded two of its schools. The school district will have some sweet lemonade in the next year and a half now.
It was 2017 that Harvey flooded the Vidor Middle School and the Oak Forest Elementary School located adjacent to each other on State Highway 12. Both schools had 18 inches of water in them after the storm.
The Vidor School Trustees needed to decide whether to rebuild the existing campuses using a bond issue or to wait on FEMA money to completely build new facilities according to Sally Andrews the district’s Director of Community Relations.
Because of the difficulty in completely rehabilitating a building as large as the schools the trustees decided to wait on FEMA money to build all new facilities for both campuses. It was a really long wait as work started on the Oak Forest Elementary School in October 2020. On June 10, 2021, Vidor school officials held a ceremonial ground-breaking for the new middle school.
It will be roughly 18 months before the Vidor ISD has two new schools. Andrews stated, “We have two schools right next door to each other that will be up and running totally full hopefully between the next year and the year after.”
G&G Enterprises of Orange is the contractor for both projects to build the new elementary school and the new middle school. The new Oak Forest Elementary School should be completed by Christmas of 2021. Andrews indicated the contract with G&G is for 540 days weather permitting for completion of the Vidor Middle School.
Andrews said the new elementary school will have a different look with all of the classrooms in one building instead of the many portable buildings that made up the previous elementary school campus. “Everything is going to be altogether and that’s going to be really nice, and we’ve been already looking at things like furniture obviously all of that had to be replaced,” Andrews commented.
As a precaution against future storms like Harvey the two campuses will be raised. G&G is building both buildings 18 inches higher from their previous elevations.
Since Harvey flooded the area, the Vidor middle school students, and those at Oak Forest, were divided into groups to have classes at other campuses. That will continue when the next school year begins in the fall.
It will have been about five years since Harvey before both new campuses are completed. Andrews expressed the pride and excitement everyone in Vidor has for the schools in the Vidor Independent School District.
The two new facilities will be available for numerous community activities to use. “We use our schools for so many things other than just educational purposes, we let little league teams practice, and groups have meetings, and we have beauty pageants in our auditorium so it’s a community facility because we really do have some of the nicest facilities in town and we certainly will when we get our two new schools built,” Andrews concluded. The two schools are costing nearly $19 million with most of the money coming from FEMA.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-