Nov 17 (Reuters): The Uvalde, Texas school board approved plans to replace Robb Elementary School, months after the town decided to demolish the building where a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
Under the plan approved unanimously by the board Wednesday, construction would begin next summer and the new school, which has yet to be named, would open in late 2024.
Uvalde, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of San Antonio, will build a $50 million school about 2 miles from its current location, ABC News reports, using private donations to finance the project. It is unclear whether public funds will be used for the project.
The design, suggested by a committee tasked with making recommendations, envisions 39 classrooms and 14 special education rooms, in addition to other rooms dedicated to art, science and technology, according to an ABC News report.
The school district did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Board members also agreed to hire an interim leader for the school district police department. According to San Antonio television station KSAT-TV, Josh Gutierrez will replace Pete Arredondo at the recommendation of the district’s interim superintendent, Gary Patterson.
Gutierrez was the head of safety and security at the La Vernia Independent School District, about 110 miles east of Uvalde, the local ABC affiliate reported. Previously, he worked with Patterson in another Texas school district.
Arredondo was fired in August after taking responsibility for a delayed law enforcement response to the shooting. Parents and relatives of children and staff have expressed outrage at the inaction of law enforcement after the gunman entered the school and opened fire.
Dozens of police officers believed to be under Arredondo waited in a hallway for about an hour while the gunman stayed with his victims in nearby classrooms. A tactical team led by the US Border Patrol eventually swooped in and executed the suspect. Arredondo said he does not consider himself the incident commander at the scene.
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the response was an abject failure and that officers on the scene lacked adequate training.
Gutierrez’s first order of business will be to reorganize the district’s small police force, which the district suspended in October.
Separately, CNN and the Uvalde Leader-News reported that Uvalde City Police Lt. Mariano Pargas, 65, who served as acting police chief on the day of the shooting, has resigned from the department, effective immediately. Continued.
Both news outlets attributed the resignation to Mayor Don McLaughlin. Neither the police department nor the mayor’s office immediately responded to Reuters requests for comment.
Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Josie Cao
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