Parents question if school damaged by Hurricane Harvey can reopen by next fall

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Parents question if school damaged by Hurricane Harvey can reopen by next fall (KTRK)

Lemm Elementary School remains closed, six months after Harvey sent several inches of water into the building. Klein ISD set a target of the school reopening in time for the 2018-19 school year in August.

Some parents question whether that's possible.

Building material and construction equipment were in the school parking lot Wednesday, as a bus brought Lemm students back from their temporary campus at Klein Cain High School -- an estimated 15 miles away.

"I have to get up at 6:18 on school mornings," said 10-year-old Codi Hubert. "The bus ride takes an hour. And that's each way."

Superintendent Bret Champion said the August deadline is still the target, but pointed out the ongoing restoration work had some delays because of insurance companies, FEMA, permit inspectors, and local government agencies.

"We've started advertising for bids this week," he said. "In addition to the restoration, it's given us an opportunity to refresh a building that's more than 30 years old."

RELATED: Lemm Elementary students return for first time since Harvey hit
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Lemm Elementary students return for first time since Harvey hit, but they'll have to attend the high school until the flooding damage is fixed.

The intended upgrades include "collaborative areas," which are part of contemporary school designs.
"Our target is and continues to be to have Lemm students at Lemm Elementary at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year," Champion said.

Parents like Scott Hubert aren't so sure.

"The way I calculate it, we have just over 150 days to go before school starts," he said.

To meet that deadline, the superintendent said an extra shift of workers may be brought in, to work into the evening after the first crew leaves. That might raise the cost of the project.

"There has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes. And again, all the conversations that have happened, we believe that our target is feasible and we are going to make sure that we communicate all those details as we move forward," Champion said.

Lemm is considered the heart of the neighborhood that surrounds it, and it's important to both the students, parents and the district to have it back in operation.

"We just need a deadline. We are running a marathon here, and we have a finish line that keeps moving," Lemm parent Scott Hubert said.

The status of the restoration is the subject of a town hall meeting Thursday evening at the Klein ISD multipurpose center on FM 2920.

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