A bill passed by the Texas House of Representatives will help fund the repairs to Bridge City elementary schools that remain damaged by Hurricane Ike. The bill will also finance a vocational training program at Lamar State College-Orange.

Although the bill still has to pass the Senate, Superintendent Jamey Harrison told The Record Newspapers this week the money (about $ 8 million for Bridge City ISD) would likely be used to combine the Sims Elementary and Hatton Elementary campuses into one at the site of the present Hatton school.

A Facilities Committee that has met for six weeks told school board members Monday they would recommend combining grades Pre-K through second.

“Clearly this funding is critical to the recovery of Bridge City ISD to repair the damage that was done during Hurricane Ike,” said Harrison. “We greatly appreciate the efforts ensuring the positive recovery of Bridge City Schools and the community.”

A supplemental appropriations bill overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives would aid in disaster expense reimbursement. Rep. Mike Hamilton and Chairman Rep. Joe Deshotel introduced and passed the amendment to House Bill 4586.

Hurricane Ike has left many of Bridge City ISD facilities in unusable conditions. At present, both Sims and Hatton elementary schools are conducting classes in modular buildings.

“This legislation is important to District 19 for two reasons,” said Hamilton. “The first being that it is important to repair the educational facilities in Bridge City that were damaged by Ike so the children can learn in a secure environment.  The second part of the legislation secures funding for the construction of a vocational training center at Lamar State College-Orange.”

According to Mike Shahan, president of Lamar-Orange, “It will also allow the college to partner with local school districts to provide concurrent vocational training and new ‘two-plus-two’ programs. I am very pleased to learn that legislation authorizing funds for the construction of a vocational training center at Lamar State College-Orange has been approved by the House.”

House Bill 4586 will now go to the Senate where it will have to meet approval.

Hatton took on about two feet of water during the storm. Sims was damaged much worse, receiving more than four feet of storm surge.  Sims repairs are estimated from $4 million and $6 million and will be considered a capital improvement project, Harrison has said. Sims is a cinderblock building with underground conduits, and damage there was primarily electrical and mechanical. Equipment such as chillers and boilers will have to be replaced.

Hatton, also an old cinderblock building, encountered mechanical, electrical and plumbing problems. An early adjusters’ assessment put repairs in the $2 million range. Most of the building will likely have to be rewired.

Earlier this year, temporary repairs had been completed at the intermediate and junior high schools. Permanent repairs are planned for this summer when students will be out.