Fort Bend ISD leaders discuss Willowridge and Marshall's temporary merger of classes

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- While a crew of 200 works to rid Fort Bend ISD's Willowridge High School of mold, hundreds of parents and students packed an auditorium three and half miles away at Marshall High School to learn how the district is coping with the temporary merger of two high school campuses.

FBISD won't put a timetable on a return to campus, but estimated the mold remediation should be completed by September 15. The mold was found last month during planned renovations to the aging campus.

Among the parents pleased with the district's plan to merge Willowridge's 1,400 students and Marshall's 1,100 for at least the first month and half of school was Kimberly Johnson. Her daughter is a junior at Willowridge.

"I was kind of scared at first, but they gave me confidence that everything is going to be handled," she told Eyewitness News after the hour long question and answer session. "It seems like they planned it out, got together and talked about it."

The $7.6 million now budgeted for the remediation means Willowridge gets all new ceiling tiles, flooring, and furniture.

RELATED: Willowridge HS students, staff to start year at Marshall HS amid mold woes

"It's been very challenging," said Willowridge Principal Thomas Graham. "But it's a challenge we're looking forward to accepting. It's one we're going to learn and grow from."

Graham was presented with an honorary key to Marshall's campus as a sign of unity between the two administrations, staffs and student bodies. The district said Marshall's campus can accommodate the extra students but will be at capacity.

"We don't like dealing with situations like this," said Superintendent Charles Dupre. "But our bottom line is always our students and our staff, so our team has really come together in a great way."

Dupre also assured parents Willowridge will reopen as a high school campus. There are no plans, he said, to close the school.

Most of all, it seemed, parents just wanted assurances the mold will be gone when the students do return, as early as October.

"(I have) no concerns other than just that they completely get rid of all the mold," said Willowridge graduate and parent Pam Gray. "And they do exactly what they say they're going to do."

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