One Year After a Devastating Tornado, Dallas ISD Eyes Road to Rebuild

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A year after a tornado caused widespread destruction at three Dallas Independent School District campuses, plans to both rebuild and re-imagine the schools are underway.

Thomas Jefferson High School, Cary Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary were all severely damaged to the point they could no longer be occupied.

"They (the students) had the tornado, the pandemic - no graduation. It's been tough on a lot of people,” said Superintendent Michael Hinojosa.

In January, the district board of trustees approved more than $130-million to start the process of rebuilding Thomas Jefferson and a new campus that would hold the students of both Cary Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary -- as well as a new career center.

But in August, the contractor hired to do the work was abruptly dismissed by the district.

“I don’t want to get into those matters because there is potential litigation but I’m not saying either side was without fault,” said Hinojosa.

Hinojosa said work is back on track and no money was wasted but the opening of Thomas Jefferson has been pushed back to October of 2022, with the other facilities to follow.

“We will try to make some of that time up but you can’t short circuit some of those very important processes in construction and if we have to open late we will open late,” said Hinojosa.

The quality of the project, Hinojosa said repeatedly – remains the priority. And amid a turbulent year, he hopes that the schools now taking shape will have a positive impact on education for years to come.

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