12/03/18 3:30pm

Last Monday, Clear Creek ISD’s board of trustees put its stamp of approval on the design (shown above) for a new Clear View High School to be built on land adjacent to the existing one. The current building on S. Walnut St. is slated to be knocked down — but perhaps not entirely: According to a press release, the school district “is working with the City of Webster to salvage the art-deco entrance from the old building for a possible Visitor’s Center” that’d show up somewhere not visible in the rendering above. When architect Rudolph G. Schneider helped put the original entrance there in 1939, it was a standout piece of architectural flair for the tiny town. Its conspicuous forehead is flanked by a pair of reliefs depicting a discus-throwing athlete on the left, and a scholar mulling over a globe on the right.

Over time, renovations to the building (originally called Webster High School) did away with other portions of it that’d been around since the beginning. But a few more original features may still be present inside: According to Preservation Houston, “It is not clear how much of the Depression-era building was incorporated into later additions.”

Photos: Clear Creek ISD

Pre-War Webster, Texas
10/19/18 10:00am

“Houston must have looked huge to Lyndon Johnson as he drove toward it across the flat Gulf plains in his battered little car,” writes Robert Caro in his biography of the former president. Johnson’s destination: Sam Houston High School (shown at top), which opened in 1921 in place of the even-older Central High School on the block bounded by Austin, Rusk, Caroline, and Capitol — the same spot where the new Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is now “90 percent complete,according to Paper City’s Annie Gallay.

Hired to teach public speaking and coach the debate team, Johnson — writes Caro — promised his new principal he’d win the state championship. He didn’t, coming in second at the tournament in Austin. Still, Johnson had succeeded in making a name for himself among staff — who gave him a $100 raise and a contract for the next school year — and among the school’s 1,800 students — who jockeyed for enrollment in “Mr. Johnson’s speech class” during the following school year. By the end of LBJ’s first full year at Sam Houston, reports Caro, enrollment had increased from 60 to 110 new students.

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Sam Houston High to HSPVA
10/17/18 4:00pm

The 2 new buildings that the River Oaks Baptist School plans to start constructing side by side next month don’t have much in common with each other besides their location. The brick one — shown left to right at the video’s 9-second mark — mimics the look of the existing campus structures north of Westheimer and west of Willowick, one of which it abuts. Dubbed the school’s “Leadership Center,” it’s planned to house administrative staff along with some other adults. The taller, southern building on the other hand takes things in an entirely new direction with its multi-level, saw-tooth-edged terraces. Each one of its 4 floors will belong to a specific grade: fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth. Right now, they all share space  with pre-K through fourth grade students in the existing campus north.

By adding on 160,000-sq.-ft., ROBS will more or less double its existing footprint — reports the HBJ‘s Fauzeya Rahman — and push out to front Westheimer directly (where a new “guard entrance” will go), displacing the former Walgreens building that sits behind Pinkberry and Zoë’s Kitchen’s shared restaurant structure in the process. It’ll also make room for the school to start adding “10 students per grade level,” to what’s now an 853-kid count, Rahman writes, over an unspecified period of time. Follow along to the spot about 35 seconds in, when the camera glides into the first floor of the modern building offering a view of where its youngest tenants will congregate.

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Virtual Video Tour
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