Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend of Texas | We Investigate

District officials discuss re-drawing high school boundaries, concerns linger for Mary Carroll HS

Corpus Christi school officials have listened to concerns about the location of the new Mary Carroll High School campus, but aren’t sharing details about what comes next, if anything.

At a workshop meeting Tuesday, several board members with Corpus Christi Independent School District discussed scenarios for re-drawing the boundaries lines to relieve the overcrowding at Southside schools – namely Veterans Memorial High School.

The district’s newest high school is expected to be at capacity within the next two years, possibly sooner, according to district officials.

District officials laid out two options for how to handle it. The first would require the board to approve a plan to transition students beginning next school year away from Veterans Memorial and to the existing Carroll High School. The second option is to wait until the new Carroll campus is built.

But district officials cautioned the school board that by waiting, it would force CCISD to make an abrupt move for many high school students enrolled at Veterans Memorial because by then, the school would be at or over capacity.

At no point during the meeting did school board discuss concerns about the location for the new Carroll High School.

The district has not made a final decision about how to address the Navy’s concerns, said Dr. Roland Hernandez, CCISD superintendent.

“As far as a timeline, that still depends because we have to look at and see what (land) is not only available, but how long that is going to take as well,” Hernandez said. “What we want is certainly for everyone to feel good about wherever we end up putting this high school.”

In the past few weeks, the school district has met with the Navy, city officials and the mayor to determine the best path forward, Hernandez said.

The plan is to open the new Carroll High School campus for the 2022 school year. That timeline is still on track, he added.

The school district cannot publicly discuss what was said in those meetings because it involves possible land negotiations, Hernandez said.

CCISD’s current plan is to build the campus on a 60-acre site on Saratoga Boulevard near Weber Road. The land is in a designated accident potential zone, which the Navy and City of Corpus Christi officials have agreed to limit development in the event a plane were to crash.

A school is not recommended and neither are developments where large crowds of people congregate. A year ago, the Navy notified the school district about those safety concerns, which affect the nearby Cabaniss Airfield.

In response, the school district reconfigured the campus to move the school building out of the crash zone. But that would leave the school’s athletic fields in the accident potential zone.

6 Investigates aired a series of reports after CCISD revealed the site location in mid-October. The reports focused on land being part of an accident potential zone and the Navy concerns, including a letter the Navy sent to CCISD district officials in March 2018. In that letter, safety and noise are the Navy’s expressed concerns.

But local military experts have said encroachment of Cabaniss Field is the bigger issue, and if the school is built there it could threaten operations of the local Navy base and its installations. Cabaniss Field is the Navy’s only multi-engine airfield for student pilot training. The Navy’s investments represent about a quarter of the Corpus Christi economy.

In October, CCISD finalized the land purchase – just days before voters agreed to pay for the new campus, an estimated cost of $175 million.

A month ago, CCISD emailed a statement that read in part:

“If, in the course of reemphasizing existing information about the Weber and Saratoga property location, we determine it is in the best interest of our community to build at another site within the CCISD boundaries area, we will promptly share this information with the community and move efficiently so as not to cause undue delay in construction.”

Jessica Savage

Jessica Savage

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