• August 2, 2014

KISD mulls plans for fire-damaged school

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Posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013 4:30 am

Nearly five months after an intense fire broke out at Gateway Middle School, most of the damage has been cleaned up, but the Killeen Independent School District is still discussing the facility’s future.

“We will be exploring some options with the board this spring,” said John Craft, the district’s deputy superintendent. “We have not finalized anything at this point.”

The school, on Zephyr Road in Killeen, was damaged by an intense fire in September. While the weekend fire did not affect students in the connected Gateway High School portion of the building, it forced more than 100 middle school students to relocate to an alternative campus on Atkinson Avenue.

Shortly after the fire, district workers moved supplies, furniture, books and other essentials to the alternative campus, which formerly housed the Career Center/Pathways complex.

Electrical, maintenance, information technology and grounds-keeping crews prepared the campus for students, who were able to continue classes without missing a single day of school.

“It was a huge team effort to get that campus operational,” Craft said.

He said that the fire caused more than $880,000 in damage to the Gateway facility. That cost does not include materials such as books, desks and computers that were lost in the blaze.

“We are still working with our insurance company to assess the estimated value of contents inside,” Craft said.

In the meantime, the district has largely completed demolition of the damaged buildings. The next step, Craft said, is deciding how to move forward. Those steps could include repairing and reopening Gateway Middle School or looking at other alternatives.

Students likely will remain at the alternative campus for the rest of the school year.

“We feel like (the Atkinson location) works (and) is able to serve those students,” Craft said.

While the district considers what the future holds for Gateway Middle School, Killeen police and fire investigators continue to investigate the blaze, which was ruled arson.

As of Friday, the investigation is open, according to the Killeen Fire Marshal’s Office.

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