Groundbreaking of new Uvalde elementary school is bittersweet

H-E-B, and the Butt family donated $10 million to create the Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation.

UVALDE, Texas – Saturday was a bittersweet day in Uvalde as ground was broken on a new elementary school.

After months of fundraising, planning, community meetings, and a few delays, the ceremonial groundbreaking marks a step forward.

The student-led ceremony began with a moment of silence, intertwined with soft sobs from still-grieving families.

“We have to remember why we are here, and I could just picture Amerie being excited if she was able to attend this beautiful school,” Berlinda Arreola, Amerie Jo Garza’s step-grandma, said.

The 21 have been incorporated into plans for the new Uvalde elementary school.

In April, the foundation presented a video to the community showing UCSID’s newest school. It shared a virtual fly-through that showed an oak tree with two main branches and 19 smaller branches bearing the names of the 21, standing tall in the library.

Their families had input on ways to improve the design of the school with safety at the forefront.

“They will be well protected. They will have security measures that, you know, unfortunately, we wish we would have had at Robb,” Arreola said.

A Uvalde High School senior, elected leaders, Uvalde CISD officials, and representatives from H-E-B spoke during the ceremony.

Jerry Mata, Tess’ dad, was asked to take part in shoveling the dirt.

“Knowing that I put dirt on top of her casket, and then having to come here and you know, throw dirt to build the’s pretty hard,” Mata said.

Initially, this groundbreaking was planned for the summer.

The Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation Executive Director Tim Miller said the delays came from the bid process.

“Based on the pre-bid budgets, we were at 75% and so we’re still working through the bids and coming up with that final price. So once we do that, we’ll be letting folks know where we’re at with fundraising,” Miller said.

While today was focused on the groundbreaking of a new elementary school near the existing Dalton Elementary, the conversation always comes back to Robb and where we’re at in the demolition of that campus.

“We have one outstanding investigation and we hope to have that wrapped up. Well, we’ve been hoping to have that wrapped up for several months now,” Gary Patterson, Uvalde CISD interim superintendent, said. “We’re hoping to have that wrapped up this fall still before the holidays. And as soon as that’s finished, then we’ll move forward with the demolition plan.”

A committee is still working on coming up with a name for the new school.

As long as construction goes as planned, students will be able to attend the new school for the 2025-2026 school year.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.

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