AISD making strides after tornadoes

by By Cristin Parker

It’s been nearly a month since tornadoes swept through Alto, doing considerable damage to the Alto Independent School District campus.

But Alto ISD staff and students are keeping their heads up and smiling through the adversity, according to the district’s administration.

“We did it! We made two weeks of crazy, two weeks of adjusting, two weeks of laughter, but most importantly two weeks of continued blessings,” AISD officials posted on the district’s Facebook page on May 3. “Our students have shown their amazing character and adjusted into our “new norm” better than could have been imagined. “From ages 4 to 18, they have all risen to the challenge. And the lessons of kindness, strength, and family can’t ever be taken from their hearts.”

Alto High School and Alto Elementary gymnasium were severely damaged during the tornadoes that touched down on Saturday, April 13.

“Thank you, parents and community, for your patience and understanding as we attempt to complete our year in unfavorable circumstances,” AISD administrators posted on social media. “The support from our school families and this tiny town speak of the relationship this district has with its community; we depend on them and they depend on us.

We would like to thank every single person and organization that has reached out in our time of need. We would like to scream every name from our roof tops … but the problem, or a better phrase “the blessing”, is the number is much too great. There is no way for us to recognize every donation, every prayer, every dollar, and every kind word that has been spoken on our behalf. The amount of love expressed to our students, staff, and community can’t be grouped into a vast thank-you list. The number is untouchable and impact on our hearts is everlasting.”

Classes were canceled for the week following the storms and when students returned, high school students had been moved into classrooms at the elementary and middle school, as officials continued to determine how much damage was done to the high school building.

The high school building was deemed unsafe, causing Alto’s high school students to complete the 2018-19 school year at the lower grade’s campuses.

School officials reported an alternative location has been chosen to take the STAAR test.

As reported on Tuesday, April 30, the district’s clean-up process continues. The Elementary gym’s demolition and removal was completed that week.

AISD board members met with experts from Region 7’s Educational Service Center during the regular board meeting held April 29, to receive input about upcoming decisions and information about school finance options. Trustees also decided to utilize the services of a group that specializes in helping schools recover damages from complex insurance claims.

Cherokee County Emergency Management Coordinator Sergio Servin reported damage to Alto ISD is estimated between $10 and $13 million dollars. He also reported

about 300 homes and 40 businesses have been listed as damaged. Of those, 89 were labeled destroyed, and 108 having moderate damage.

Officials have also assessed at least $2.5 million in damages to the Caddo Mounds State Historic Site.