Three hurricanes in 2017 – Harvey, Irma, and Maria – destroyed many properties. In response, the National Park Service (NPS) designated $12.3 million in federal funding to assist in damage recovery on significant historic properties within the state of Texas. The Texas Historical Commission (THC) was given oversight responsibilities to administer the grant program.

The historic Rockport School, which is the new home of the Aransas County Independent School District (ACISD) administrative offices, is a finalist and strong contender for the first round of $250,000 grants to be awarded.

ACISD facilities took a beating during Hurricane Harvey, destroying the administration building, two gyms, extensively damaging the Martha Luigi Auditorium, and wreaking havoc with every other district structure.

Insurance adjusters estimated the damages at $54.5 million dollars (with a $2.5 million dollar deductible).

No facilities were immediately inhabitable after Harvey. ACISD students attended schools in neighboring districts until October 2017. The district used emergency funds to purchase portable buildings and consolidated or repaired areas of campuses to provide interim facilities for displaced teachers and students.

ACISD administrative staff relocated to Rockport School, a facility built in 1935 and recognized as Texas Historical Commission as State Historic Site No. 13653. Three months after Harvey the administrative offices relocation was made permanent.

Insurance funds allocated for the replacement of the administration building (approximately $1.5 million) were redirected to Rockport School. However, none of the insurance funds can be used for the windows and the auditorium seats.

Working as partners, the Aransas County Historical Commission (ACHC), the ACISD Education Foundation, and ACISD staff began the application process for the NPS funding.

THC and NPS representatives conducted a preliminary site visit in April 2019. They met with ACHC representatives Pam Stranahan and Pat Rousseau, the Education Foundation’s Suzanne Ransleben, ACISD Superintendents Joseph Patek, the ACISD’s Norman Spears and Thomas Lawing, and restoration architect David Brown.

The grant request was submitted to THC in May 2019. Notification was received from THC in July that the grant was favorably accepted. A second site visit was conducted Oct. 24, 2019 when the local team was notified that Rockport School is a finalist.

Signed contracts should be in place by January 2020.

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