08/24/18 10:30am

Without any formal backyard practice facilities, students make their own fun behind James Hogg Middle School’s Woodland Heights building. But a set of plans the school calls Outside Hogg now aims to tame things at the north end of the property along E. 11th St.

The idea is to redo it as a proper sports field, complete with a scoreboard and bleachers:

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Razorback Recess
08/16/18 12:15pm

A Swamplot reader sends a few drive-by snapshots of construction on the Goddard School’s campus expansion, now going up along both sides of W. 23rd St west of Durham. The photo at top shows the 2-story steel framing now rising on the north side of the street, while the one above shows the portion of the preschool that’s going up opposite it, just east of Wright-Bembry Park.

Blue fencing now separates the green space from the south construction site:

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Steel Preschool Skeletons
08/03/18 4:00pm

SCHOOLS ARE NOW BUYING SPECIAL INSURANCE POLICIES IN CASE THEY GET SHOT UP The market for “active-assailant” insurance is alive and well, reports the Wall Street Journal, as more and more private schools, public schools, charters, and universities go on fiscal defense against the threat posed by fire-armed students — who cost districts a lot of money in counseling expenses, crisis management, extra security, and of course lawsuits. (“If you’re a risk manager for a school district, you have to look at it with the same eye that you might look at coverage for a tornado,” says a researcher at the University of South Carolina. “We live in a very litigious United States.”) The policies function as a type of gap insurance, covering expenses not typically included in general liability like funeral costs and death benefits, often up to $250,000 per victim. For smaller schools, premiums range from roughly $1,800 to $1 million, and for larger ones up to $20 million. Just last month, Ohio underwriter McGowan Program Administrators wrote over 60 policies, a representatives tells the WSJ. And of the 300 policies it’s written total, some have already been paid out. [Wall Street Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas: Santa Fe ISD

07/02/18 12:15pm

From start to finish, the video above fast forwards through about 2 years of construction on the Kinder High School for Performing and Visual Arts’ new building at 790 Austin St. Following an official groundbreaking in late 2014, workers stacked 5 floors atop a 2-story underground parking garage (which took on about 10 in. of water during Harvey) — leaving space in the front face on Austin St. for a multistory jigsaw-like window.

That opening started out as more of a hole:

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Assembly Period
06/25/18 1:30pm

At least one imaginary student couldn’t be more excited for Sam Houston State University’s new Art Complex. It’s not up and running yet, however; construction on the 4-floor studio and gallery space began earlier this month, after the school’s Board of Regents okayed Kirksey Architecture’s plans for the building in February.

When finished, it’ll consolidate the art facilities now spread across 7 separate campus buildings, mapped out below:

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Kilns Out Back
05/25/18 12:45pm

The back portion of Eastwood’s Stephen F. Austin Senior High School off Telephone Rd. is in the process of being pulverized to make room for a new western section of the campus that’ll go in its place. Like the demolished section, the soon-to-be built 184,000-sq.-ft. portion will back up to S. Lockwood Dr. along Jefferson St. Asbestos cleanup preceded the current demo.

Workers’ next job will be to gut the interior of the school’s original 1936 front section along Dumble St. — but not until it achieves an all-clear from asbestos as well:

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Eastwood Redo
05/23/18 11:45am

WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO BRING SECURITY CHECKPOINTS TO YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL Following up on Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s suggestion of hardening security at Texas schools, Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe does the math: “The price of walk-through metal detectors range, in general, from about $3,500 to $5,000 each. There are more than 9,100 public school and charter school campuses in Texas. If metal detectors cost $4,000 each, then the total price tag for equipping the state school buildings would run about $36.4 million.” The problem: that accounting only budgets in one metal detector per campus. Last week, Patrick argued for limiting the ways in and out of Texas’ schools because “There aren’t enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit.” But, notes Ratcliffe, even New York-style frisk points at each door wouldn’t have defended against other school shooting tactics, like those of Adam Lanza, who “shot out a window made of tempered glass” to get inside the locked Sandy Hook Elementary School. When police arrived at that building, their only option was to bust open a window themselves to enter, momentarily delaying their response to the massacre — which “took about eleven minutes.” [Texas Monthly] Photo: Santa Fe ISD

05/14/18 4:30pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: HERE COME THE FULL-NESTERS “I bought in a community that I thought was a step up from inner loop city living. It turns out that of the 4 homes around my house, 3 homes have their married kids living with grandkids living with them. It will be interesting how this dynamic changes school systems in the suburbs.” [Suburbanite, commenting on Redo for the Omni Houston Hotel; Gearing Up for MFAH’s New Campus Opening; La Vibra Tacos for Heights Village at Yale and 5th St.] Illustration: Lulu

05/01/18 2:30pm

SUGAR LAND’S CONVICTS-FOR-LEASE PAST UNEARTHS ITSELF OFF UNIVERSITY BLVD. Crews at work on the new Sugar Land school building — dubbed The James Reese Career and Technical Center — at the corner of Chatham Ave. and University Blvd. made unexpected human contact in the middle of last month, Fort Bend ISD spokesperson Veronica Sopher tells Click2Houston’s Syan Rhodes: “We were back-filling into a trench when we found some remains, or what we thought could be remains.” The caretaker of a graveyard less than a mile away — which sits on the former Imperial State Prison Farm — wasn’t surprised. Having overseen the Old Imperial Farm Cemetary (pictured above with the same errant spelling) for nearly 20 years — reports the Chronicle’s Brooke A. Lewis — “[Reginald] Moore believes it’s just part of a larger graveyard that includes the remains of those who were part of the convict leasing system,” a statewide program through which Texas allowed mostly black prisoners to be contracted out for free labor shortly after slavery was outlawed. Fearing damage to the then-undiscovered grave sites, Moore “relentlessly pushed city and school officials to study the open area near the cemetery and urged them not to build nearby,” but construction began anyway last November. It’s now being held up in the area where the inadvertent exhumations took place. [Houston Chronicle; morePhoto: Historic Houston

04/20/18 5:00pm

During- and after-school views east across Oakdale St. show the 4-story, Gensler-designed school building that First Presbyterian Church plans to build adjacent to its current one in the Museum District. The new building is tucked into the pie slice of streets and parking lots north of the MFAH between Montrose Blvd. and Main. It sits on 2 vacant lots totaling just under one fifth of an acre in the loop formed by Oakdale and Pinedale streets. Catty-corner to it is the existing First Presbyterian School’s driveway — visible at the bottom of the daytime view above.

A sliced-open view from the building’s backside shows its lobby fronting the existing pre-K-through-8 school:

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Museum District
04/17/18 10:15am

Wharton Elementary School’s 3-story backyard addition has moved up steadily from its previous grade level since 2016 and is now standing tall behind the existing single-story schoolhouse at 900 W. Gray. The least-finished portion of the new building shown in the photo at top is where the school’s new glassy main entrance will go in supplement of the current one at the front of the existing building. North of the 3-story entry atrium facing Columbus St., the new first floor will house mostly administrative offices — with some added classrooms above them.

A shady but still grassless courtyard separates the new structure from the old:

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Schooling North Montrose
04/12/18 4:45pm

The new 235,000-sq.-ft. job training center Alief ISD started building 2-years ago on the corner of W. Houston Center Blvd. and Richmond Ave is almost a done deal. Now that the building — dubbed the Center for Advanced Careers — is up, the photo at top looks across W. Houston Center from outside Walmart to show what will be the entry to its culinary arts wing at the far end of the blocked-off driveway. A view facing north back when the 19-acre site was still flat and home to the Golf Range on Richmond shows where visitors used to tee off on it.

The new building is wrapped by parking lots:

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Training Grounds
01/09/18 5:00pm

The steel is up on the site of Lamar High School’s new campus, nearly in its sophomore year of construction adjacent to the existing building at 3325 Westheimer. Photos of the new schoolhouse — which will front Eastside St. to the east of the old building — show it still in assembly on what used to be the high school’s track and athletic field. When it’s done, the planned 4-story structure will house 2,800 to 3,100 students, who will spend most of their class time in the new building, but still be able to access its neighbor through a 2nd-story concourse that links to it.

The perspective section below from architect Perkins + Will slices open both the planned and existing buildings and peers south into their classrooms. On the right, it shows the concourse plugging into the old building’s gray exterior:

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Secondary Education Building
11/08/17 1:30pm

THE KATY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WITH A FLOOD POOL SECRET Some documents related to the Katy ISD’s 1998 purchase of the 15-acre site now occupied by Creech Elementary School at 4242 S. Mason Rd. have been frozen — in an attempt to preserve them, after they got flooded when Barker Reservoir got backed up after Hurricane Harvey. What those records might show, once thawed: some explanation for why school officials at the time signed a notice indicating they did not review a map filed with the county by Westbrook Cinco East LP (the developer from whom the property was purchased) that disclosed in a note that the land came with the risk of “extended controlled inundation.” Though several Katy schools sit on land near or in the Barker reservoir flood pool — the area expected to fill up with water when the dam is closed for a major flooding event — only Creech suffered major damage. All 800 Creech students are now attending classes at the University of Houston’s nearby Cinco Ranch campus while the school undergoes an estimated $5 million worth of repairs. The school district’s superintendent tells the Chronicle‘s Lise Olsen that he and other school officials were unaware that the school was built in the flood pool until they were contacted for her story. [Houston Chronicle] Photo of flooding at Creech Elementary School, 4242 S. Mason Rd., Katy: Breta Gatlin

11/07/17 1:00pm

In case you were curious what the 9th-floor 1-bedroom condo in the Cosmopolitan owned by southwest Houston charter school Accelerated Interdisciplinary Intermediate Academy looks like, here are some photos taken when the property was listed for sale in February of 2011, for $468,500. The school purchased the condo that June. 250 elementary and middle school students attend Accelerated Interdisciplinary Intermediate Academy on its mostly bare 7-acre campus at 12825 Summit Ridge Dr., near the intersection of Alt. 90 and the Fort Bend Pkwy. Toll Rd. The taxpayer-funded school’s 2 buildings have no windows.

So what’s the condo for? An unidentified school representative emails the Chronicle‘s Jacob Carpenter to explain it’s used for “”back office support and SECURE storage of historical records.” Repeated break-in attempts, according to the representative, prevented the records from being kept at the school. “The writer also reasoned that the charter preferred buying property instead of paying rent, and that its options were ‘very limited,’” writes Carpenter. “The author didn’t explain why the school opted for the condo when cheaper storage and office space were available.”

The almost-floor-to-ceiling windows and balcony in the school’s Cosmopolitan condo face south, down Post Oak Blvd.:

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A Charter School’s Uptown Holdings