RACE TO THE FINISH: Alto ISD gets ready for new school year after April storms

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ALTO, Texas (KETK) – Three and a half months have gone by since that fateful day in April, where tornadoes ripped through the city and left devastation throughout.

Alto Elementary School gym on April 13 shortly after a tornado

Even months later, there is still a reminder of what happened including tarps on roofs, exposed ceilings, portable buildings and the constant sound of construction.

“It’s our new normal,” said Kelly West, Alto ISD Superintendent. “There will be a new pattern to our flow up here this year but our kids are resilient and our community is supportive and we will make the best of this bad situation.”

In that time work crews have been working “daylight to dark”, to get everything ready for the first day of school.

“We moved, actually, 10 buildings in here for the school district so that they can have their temporary campus after the tornado,” said Scott Shultz, Shultz House Moving & Demolition. “It’s about the kids. It’s not about the money or the timing getting it done, it’s about getting the kids back in school.”

But the road to a full recovery is anything but smooth.

“We have run into a roadblock with our insurance, things have slowed down considerably as far as payments coming it,” said West. “We are staying the course though and preceding with our rebuilding efforts to make sure we have facilities for our students.”

Currently, the school board is looking at its options as far as insurance is concerned.

In the meantime, they still have a school to renovate.

“There are portions of the high school we are in the process of renovating right now that we need in order to start school,” said West. “The cafeteria, the band hall, there’s a math wing of classrooms near the band hall. We need all of those facilities in order to start school.”

Though there is still plenty of work to be done on the high school, many are just ready to return to some kind of normal.

“To see it come together, it’s reassuring and it’s comforting,” said Timothy Ektefaei, Alto High School Band Director.

Especially for those students who are starting extracurricular activities this week.

Alto’s band camp is marching on with the beat of the music preparing to take on next year on and off the field.

“I’m ready to get it started so that we can deal with whatever we’re going to have to deal with going forward,” said Ektefaei. “But I think the football season will kind of bring everybody back together and give us that sense of normalcy that we need.”

Tentatively the first day of school will be on August 19, unless construction is further halted but Alto says they’re ready for anything at this point.

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