The students and staff displaced by a fire at Gateway Middle School last week will hold classes in a temporary facility for the remainder of the school year, officials from the Killeen Independent School District said Thursday.
Superintendent Robert Muller told members of the Killeen ISD board of trustees at an early morning workshop that more than 100 students would spend the rest of the school year at the former Career Center/Pathways complex on Atkinson Avenue.
“There was no loss of instructional time for students,” Muller said.
The fire, which investigators labeled an arson, destroyed the school’s offices and caused smoke and water damage to other buildings.
Deputy Superintendent John Craft said local firefighters used more than 1 million gallons of water over a two-hour period to put out the blaze.
“It was a very intense fire,” said Craft, who helped manage the response to the blaze while Muller made his way back to Killeen from a national conference in Washington, D.C.
Craft gave a presentation detailing the action the district took in the aftermath of Saturday’s fire, which included setting up a new campus for the students to begin classes Monday at the former Career Center/Pathways complex.
“Those portables had been sitting unoccupied for quite a while,” Craft said. “We knew we needed to set it up for telecommunications, food services, and we knew we had to do it quickly.”
Craft said district workers began pulling supplies such as desks, curriculum and furniture to move to the school on Sunday, while electrical, maintenance, information technology and grounds keeping crews got the campus ready for students. By Sunday night, classrooms, offices and even a cafeteria were ready for the Gateway Middle School students.
“This was a team effort,” said Craft, who along with Muller and the board praised the district employees for their work. “We had a lot of doubts whether or not this would be possible. ... It was their collective effort that made this happen.”
Muller said insurance adjusters are still assessing the damage at Gateway, and no decisions about its future have been made.
In the meantime, the school board voted unanimously Thursday to give Muller the power to move forward with the process, which will likely include tearing down the damaged portion of the facility, adjacent to the Gateway High School campus on Zephyr Road.
Police are still searching for a “person of interest” and are encouraging anyone with knowledge of the incident to contact them.
Contact Chris McGuinness at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.