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Motiva donations boosts local schools

 

Motiva’s combined donations of $900,000 for Port Arthur education this week should have a profound and continuing impact on local schools.

Motiva officials Tuesday signed memoranda of understanding first with Port Arthur Independent School District, then with Lamar State College Port Arthur. Donations were $650,000 to the former, $250,000 to the latter.

Some $400,00 is dedicated to security cameras for numerous PAISD schools. Another $200,000 is dedicated for the purchase of two buses with seatbelts and $50,000 is reserved for replacing vehicles damaged by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey in August 2017.

The donation was made in the spacious confines of the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School, a showcase for the local public school system. Superintendent Mark Porterie said security was at the heart of how the school system will spend the unexpected windfall, word of which was known for about a month.

Even the school bus purchases will be security related; the new buses will be equipped with seatbelts, which the school system has made a priority. Porterie said equipping buses with seatbelts restricts seat use to two students per bench, instead of the three that are sometimes seated per bench. That requires more buses, a tradeoff for safety but a good one.

At Lamar Port Arthur, the $250,000 that Motiva donated to the two-year school will boost its efforts for training students in instrumentation technology and process technology, two programs in high demand from local industries.

A $2 million+ facility there will include industrial units that will give students in the program an opportunity for hands-on simulation of plant work. The facility will be located on ground next to the technology and HVAC building.

George Bohn, who heads up that program, said faculty will use the training equipment to challenge students with work scenarios that will demand complete knowledge of the equipment in preparation for working at local plants. That will help Lamar Port Arthur students to be work ready at graduation.

Verna Rutherford, Motiva’s local spokeswoman, said Lamar Port Arthur President Betty Reynard has worked to develop the technology program for years. The fruits of such effort, which enjoy widespread success, are well known.

Motiva’s generous donation is extraordinary but not necessarily atypical for local industries, who have given mightily to the community since the devastating August 2017 storms.

Since then, Motiva has donated a total of $7 million, Port Arthur plant manager Greg Lucchesi said. The city is more than just the site of the continent’s top-producing refinery; it is also home to many Motiva workers.

Port Arthur people should admire that generous spirit. What Motiva and the local schools have accomplished this week through the Port Arthur Education Foundation will benefit students for many years.