Weslaco ISD approves funds to make flood repairs

Water is seen inside a Weslaco elementary during the November 2018 flooding. courtesy Photo Weslaco ISD

Weslaco Independent School District officials approved a measure to spend between $75,000 to $80,000 to make “immediate repairs” following last week’s heavy rainfall during a special board meeting Monday.

The June 24 flooding caused “minimal” damage to the district’s facilities and resources compared to last year’s flooding, district officials said.

Last year’s thunderstorms had a financial impact of about $14 million. About $6.8 million stemmed from damages to the transportation department, which saw the loss of 89 buses out of a fleet of 91.

Read our coverage of the 2019 flooding.

One elementary school closed down for the 2018-19 academic year due to that flood, which was later dubbed the Great June Flood of 2018. Estimated damages to the Roosevelt Elementary school cost the district about $5.8 million, according to Monitor archives. Over 300 students were relocated to Airport Elementary school as a response, with Roosevelt’s library and cafeteria repaired following the disaster.

“All those students who moved over there have adjusted very well,” board president Isidoro Nieto said.

Last year’s flood affected 3,490 students and impacted 59 staff members at Weslaco ISD.

However, the district took measures to minimize the damage to district property this year. Nieto said plans were put in place to move the buses to a place where it didn’t flood. They were ultimately taken to Mary Hoge Middle School and Rico Elementary School.

“We had a good plan to save our buses and transportation; we had a good plan for not having students in school because we had summer school; and then of course we had a good plan for evacuation,” Nieto said.

Trustee Erasmo Lopez raised concerns over the district’s long-term plans to address flooding.

“We can’t expect our staff to be on standby every night or every time it’s going to rain,” Lopez said during the board meeting.

The highlighted how a small forecast for rain turned into the “perfect storm,” and added that waking up drivers at night “every time we get a shower” may lead to a “fiasco.”

Superintendent Priscilla Canales said the district may work on possible alternatives with facilities committees to address those issues..

Canales said staff can move buses to Mary Hoge Middle School and Rico Elementary School as a precaution during the district’s break in the summer, as it has already done before, she said.

Officials are also preparing to raise salaries. A second workshop and the potential approval of a compensation plan is slated for July 29.

jhoang@themonitor.com