School, faith leaders call for unity as Willowridge, Marshall High Schools merge

MISSOURI CITY, Texas – Fort Bend Independent School District, community and faith leaders came together Friday to rally for unity as rivals Thurgood Marshall High School and Willowridge High School merge for the first couple months of the 2017-2018 school year.

"This is a great time to show the world, our state, how we are a community," Rudolph White Jr., pastor of Christian Bible Church said.

The two schools, which are rivals on the football field, will have to live in harmony in Marshalll's hallways, at least for a little while.

"We are more than a community. We are family," Thurgood Marshall High School principal Alfred Holland said.

Marshall and Willowridge will operate at Marshall's campus while mold that was initially discovered in a Willowridge band room in June is removed. Later in the summer, mold was discovered in locations throughout the school, prompting its closure.

The Fort Bend ISD said the cost to remediate the mold at Willowridge High School is up to $7.6 million and includes replacement of floor and ceiling tiles and furniture.

The district said more than 150 people are working around the clock to finish cleaning.

"We have two crews working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This includes 150 people on the day shift and 50 working overnight, and we are aggressively pushing toward turning over the building in mid-September," Carolina Fuzetti, Fort Bend ISD's executive director of design and construction, said.

The district expects contractors to complete their part of the cleanup by Sept. 15 and turn the school back over to Fort Bend ISD. District officials said it will then begin refurnishing the building and performing its own cleanup process before students can return.

The date of completion is unclear at this time.

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