Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend of Texas | We Investigate

CCISD: Navy approval not needed for new high school location

The Navy recommended against a public high school near its training airfield, and the school district now says that approval is not needed to move ahead with the project.

After claiming the Navy supported its current campus design, KRIS 6 News requested documentation to back up that claim. Instead, Corpus Christi Independent School District invited KRIS 6 News to a sit-down interview about the matter earlier today.

CCISD has addressed the Navy’s safety concerns with the design of the campus, said Roland Hernandez, superintendent CCISD. But he could not provide any documentation to support that claim.

On Oct. 25, KRIS 6 News received written responses from a Navy spokeswoman that said: “The Navy recommended to CCISD that they should not build the Mary Carroll High School in that area. CCISD acknowledged our safety concerns.” KRIS 6 News decided to publish the Navy’s responses to its questions about the location.

The area in question is a 60-acre site on Saratoga Boulevard, near Weber Road. A portion of the site is in an Accident Potential Zone II (APZ-II), which is an area the Navy and City of Corpus Christi agreed should have restricted development. An educational facility, like a high school campus, is not recommended. But based on the current zoning of the property, CCISD is able to build the campus and avoid those recommendations. CCISD is not subject to the city zoning restrictions.

The Navy’s reason for the recommendation is simple: to avoid mass casualties if there is a mishap and a plane were to crash in that area. The APZ areas are areas the Navy has identified as the most likely areas for a mishap. Cabaniss Field is used to train navy pilots.

Hernandez said that was the Navy’s recommendation in March, but it changed after CCISD officials met with the Navy during a meeting in April. He was at the meeting.

“We sat with them,” Hernandez said. “We looked at it. They told us what would be a better recommendation, layout. We did it.”

Based on that unofficial feedback, CCISD moved the location of the school classrooms from the flight path of navy planes and to the other side of the property, Hernandez said. That change places the athletic fields in what the Navy calls a future APZ.

And it’s that campus design that CCISD will use to build the new Mary Carroll High School if voters support the bond initiative currently on the ballot, Hernandez said. The Navy’s official recommendation has not changed.

KRIS 6 News has asked for copies of all of CCISD’s correspondence with the Navy, but has not received those records.

Jessica Savage

Jessica Savage

Award-winning investigative reporter who has worked in East Texas and South Texas.
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