HSPVA Neighbors Discuss Bond Program, Future of Existing School

HISD officials spoke to a crowd of 15 at the First Montrose Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting Tuesday at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts to discuss how the $1.89 billion 2012 bond program will impact the surrounding community.

The bond project will replace or rebuild 40 schools across the district, including HSPVA.

Meeting attendees asked questions about the future of current facility at 4001 Stanford St., after the school moves to its new proposed location at 1300 Capitol St., blocks away from Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston. The new facility will provide instructional and performance spaces appropriate for the arts-centered curriculum, including large theatrical performance areas, along with a recital hall, dance studio, and rehearsal spaces.

First Montrose Neighborhood Association President Jason Ginsburg said he would like to see the old campus used as a culinary arts school or a performing arts school for elementary or middle school students.

“We think the building’s best purpose is to maintain it as a school campus,” Ginsburg said.   “The property has historical significance as a school.”

Located in the heart of Houston’s historic Montrose area since 1981, HSPVA was the city’s first magnet school and is divided into six departments — vocal music, instrumental music, dance, theatre, visual art, and creative writing.

Ginsburg said it is important for the neighboring community to address what will happen to the property before the planning and the construction of the new building begins.

“It’s great that we’re having meetings about these projects; I believe that any dialogue is beneficial,” he said. “This is a positive step in improving our communication on what becomes of these properties.”

Sue Robertson, HISD’s general manager of Facility Planning, said she understood the association’s concerns, having been a former resident of a historic neighborhood. She encouraged further conversation and additional community meetings to explore ideas on future uses of the building.

Dan Bankhead, HISD’s general manager of Facility Design, said the district would keep the community involved. “Whenever a new facility is created, the district looks at the demographics and the conditions of the facility then makes a strategic decision about what to do,” he said.

Bankhead added that the school’s new location in downtown Houston will put students in close proximity to the arts and theatrical venues. “A lot of people involved in the program here are excited about this opportunity and the opportunity it’s going to afford the students,” he said.

HSPVA is among the first group of 17 schools scheduled to begin the planning and design phase this year under the 2012 bond program. Construction should be under way sometime in 2014 and the new school could be open for students no later than 2017.