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New PNGISD schools under construction, timeline moves forward

While COVID-19 may have impacted a lot of school districts throughout the last school year, one thing it didn’t stop was the progression of the new Port Neches-Groves ISD schools that will eventually condense seven schools to four.

“We were able to do a lot of things virtually,” said Deputy Superintendent Julie Gauthier. “We’re still on track with where we need to be.”

The construction is part of a $130 million bond approved in 2019 by voters, allowing the district to combine four Groves’ schools and three Port Neches schools into four campuses.

A rendering of what the Port Neches and Groves 3rd-5th grade sites will look like. (Courtesy PNGISD)

In Port Neches, Ridgewood and Woodcrest elementary schools will combine to create one pre-K-2nd grade campuses.

Port Neches Elementary and Groves Elementary will be replaced by two 3rd-5th grade schools, each designed to be two-story buildings.

Students at West Groves Education Center site, which currently houses pre-K, will attend one of the two pre-K-2nd grade schools.

The intermediate schools have been designed and ground has been broken.

“What we’ve done is we’ve gone ahead and cut down the building pads, so the area of the building has been cut in,” said Breck Ragan, head general contractor for Cadence McShane Construction, as they worked Monday at the site behind Woodcrest Elementary.

“Right now we’ve got to build it back up with select fill,” he explained. “So once we building that back up, then we can go ahead and start drilling piers. We have over 240 piers that go in this building.”

Gauthier said the intent is to open the two 3rd-5th grade schools in the fall of 2022, while the pre-K through 2nd grade campuses will open in fall of 2023.

The two 3rd-5th grade schools in PNGISD are expected to open in fall of 2022, while the two pre-k-2nd grade schools are projected to open in fall of 2023. (Monique Batson/The News)

According to information on the district’s web page, the Groves 3rd-5th school will be built at the current West Groves Education Center site. The Port Neches pre-K-2nd grade school will be built where Ridgewood is, and the Groves equivalent will be built where Groves Elementary sits.

The pre-K-2nd schools will be one-story structures.

According to information posted on the district’s website while asking for the bond, the current elementary schools are all 60-70 years old and overcrowded.

“There are many new safety and security measures that we are unable to adequately install in these facilities due to their age,” the document states.

The concept first went before a community advisory ground in 2015.