A new high school campus to be built in a Navy crash zone is getting another look by school officials.
That information released Monday afternoon by Corpus Christi Independent School District after mounting pressure by community leaders and military experts during the past several weeks about the location for the new Mary Carroll High School.
“I’m completely and totally opposed to continuing or even taking any further action,” said CCISD board member Tony Diaz, in an interview earlier today about the campus location. He decided to speak publicly with KRIS 6 News, he said, because he felt the board is not listening to the Navy’s concerns.
“We are obligated to protect the lives of our students and do our due diligence,” he said.
The new campus will be built on a 60-acre tract of land on Saratoga Boulevard, near Weber Road – despite the Navy’s recommendation that it not be built there. That recommendation is based on an agreed-to land study by city and Navy officials back in 2011 that determined a school shouldn’t be built in that area because it’s at risk for a plane crash and noise from low-flying aircraft. The planes are being flown by student pilots who train at the nearby Cabaniss Field.
In October, KRIS 6 News reported the Navy’s recommendation against the site after CCISD Superintendent Dr. Roland Hernandez revealed the location of the replacement high school during a routine media interview about a bond package to fund it. The school board approved the land purchase just days before the election.
Voters narrowly approved the bond, which gave district officials the $175 million in funding needed to build the campus. And since then, the board has pushed the project toward construction.
But those efforts seemed to pivot Monday when CCISD acknowledged in a prepared news release that the board could consider another location for the campus.
“Building a new school campus is an exciting and positive development for our community. To that end, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that our community leaders have accurate information about this project. 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.”
In a letter to the CCISD school superintendent this past March, Navy officials warned the chosen site was in an accident potential zone for the airfield, and laid out their concerns.
Since 6 Investigates first reported the concerns about the school campus, CCISD has maintained that the Navy’s concerns were addressed. The Navy has said its recommendation has not changed.
A local military expert explained if CCISD decided to build the campus on that land it would be encroachment – an issue that could lead to conversations about base closure.
The Navy’s air installations and supporting base operations make up about a third of the economy in Corpus Christi. Experts warned a closure or even partial closure of base operations could have a devastating effect on the local economy.