A number of school districts across Texas responded during and after Hurricane Harvey by providing aid to displaced residents, none more so than Gregory-Portland ISD outside of Corpus Christi.
While Corpus Christi ISD provided many of the necessary evacuations of local residents via school buses, the much smaller GPISD increased its total student enrollment by nearly 38 percent as it took in another 1,700 students during and after the wettest cyclone to hit the continental U.S. to date. Additionally, its student transportation operations have doubled, thanks to the help of several districts whose students were displaced.
Students enrolled from several districts located along the Gulf Coast, including the Aransas County ISD serving the Rockport and Fulton area where Harvey made landfall on Aug. 26. Other districts include Aransas Pass ISD, Port Aransas ISD, Ingleside ISD, and Taft ISD.
“We have students from five different school districts attending classes here in G-PISD ... and while the class sizes are larger; we are managing it very effectively,” reported Superintendent Dr. Paul Clore. “Students are working cooperatively with one another, and so are instructional staff. It is wonderful to see how everything has come together, considering the circumstances.”
District spokeswoman Crystal Matern shared with STN that several of the affected ISDs are contributing buses and drivers to transport an additional 500 students each day, in addition to the 570 Gregory-Portland ISD students who already were receiving service.
Aransas County ISD is using 14 of its own school buses and drivers, while Aransas Pass ISD is using three buses with drivers and Ingleside is using two buses and drivers. Sinton ISD is also transporting the balance of Aransas Pass ISD students to school there.
“These routes are planned to continue until other districts are able to resume classes,” Matern added.
Ingleside ISD plans to resume classes on Sept. 21, but Aransas County ISD said it expects its three elementary schools, middle school and high school to not be ready to receive students and faculty until Oct. 9. Aranas Pass ISD, meanwhile, isn’t expected to reopen until Oct. 16.
“We have had tremendous cooperation and teamwork among school districts heavily impacted by the storm,” added Dr. Clore. “All of us have been working collaboratively to ensure that students in closed districts had places to come for instruction.”
Read more on how Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma affected operations in Texas and Florida, respectively, in the October issue of School Transportation News magazine.