Houston Middle School likely closed for year by quake damage
One of the Mat-Su Borough’s school facilities in Houston has apparently been shuttered for the year by damage from the 7.0 Friday earthquake that damaged infrastructure across southcentral Alaska.
The Mat-Su Borough School District included updated information on Houston Middle School in a comprehensive update Monday.
“School will likely not be available for occupation the remainder of the 2018-19 school year,” district officials wrote. “Students will be relocated to an alternate site – most likely Houston High School.”
District Superindentent Dr. Monica Goyette said in a video that students and staff across the district suffered only minor injuries during the quake, adding that newly sworn-in Gov. Mike Dunleavy has toured some district facilities. The district was still figuring out how to deal with Houston Middle, which Goyette said was the most severely damaged school in the district.
“Our best plan right now is to try to relocate portables and allow them to integrate at Houston High School so we can keep the school communities together,” Goyette said.
During Friday's evacuation of the building, many of Houston Middle's 325 students left behind school supplies, jackets, purse and even cellphones.
"As long as the building is safe we're going to be looking to hire a moving company and be able to retrieve those, so students can have what's in their locker and what they left behind in classrooms," Goyette said.
The district is still assessing the damage to see if the school can be repaired or if it will have to be completely torn down.
Seven schools have already reopened Monday. The bulk of the borough’s schools, including 28 facilities, were set to open for staff on Wednesday and students on Thursday pending final inspections and approvals. Opening dates for several other schools and special programs are still to be determined, however, according to a district itinerary:
American Charter Academy School
Big Lake Elementary School
Colony High School
Colony Middle School
Finger Lake Elementary School
Houston High School
Iditarod Elementary School
Knik Elementary School
Mat-Su Central School
Twindly Bridge Charter School
Updates will be posted to the same website which hosted Monday's information, Goyette said.
Heather Hintze contributed information to this story.
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