Port Neches-Groves ISD updates school construction timelines, student movement

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, September 14, 2022

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PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves Independent School District’s younger students will start the 2023-24 school year in brand new buildings, Superintendent Mike Gonzales said this week during an update on the 2019 bond issue.

The news comes after the district was informed in April that two schools expected to open last month were behind schedule.

“We were disappointed at one time because we thought we would be in our schools here in August,” Gonzales said during the monthly school board meeting. “I think looking back, things didn’t work out the way we expected, but we’re definitely excited to think about all of our campuses, all of our teachers and all of our students moving into new buildings at the same time. So we’re going to look at the bright side.”

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A heated meeting followed April news from Colby Rose of Cadence McShane Construction Company that the intermediate schools under construction at the Woodcrest Elementary site and former West Groves Education Center site wouldn’t be ready until December at the earliest.

Trustee Brandon Cropper, at the time, called it “more smokescreen,” while Board President Scott Bartlett said he’d been doubting the timeline for some time. Gonzales made mention of passing the campuses multiple times to find it void of contractors.

This week he said the number of people working on the buildings should soon grow from approximately 30 to nearly 100.

“They have given us a finish date,” he said. “They believe that we might get those buildings in January, but we’re not in a hurry right now. If they get it to us by February, we’ll be happy. At this point we just want a good product. We want to make sure they don’t cut corners and we want to make sure they do everything they said they were going to do.”

The $130 million bond issue passed in 2019 consolidates seven existing schools into four new buildings — two pre-kindergarten through second grade schools and two third grade through fifth grade schools.

The intermediate campuses will be two floors, while the primary schools will be one level.

Construction on the latter, Gonzales said Monday, is ahead of schedule by approximately six weeks.

“From what we see right now, we’re excited,” the superintendent said. “There are walls going up. They’ve poured most of the slabs. They just needed a few dry days to finish pouring the concrete.”