New Fifth Ward School

The Fifth Ward is getting a new elementary school to accomodate the growing demands of the neighborhood. The new school is designed specifically for student musicians. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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Bruce Elementary was built in the 1950s back when Texas schools were still segregated. Over the years, it became a magnet school for music students. It now has a music program which allows every student in the school to play an instrument. HISD Board Member Kevin Hoffman says the average school in the district is 50-70 years old.

"Any building is just like a human being, it has its lifespan. These buildings were built during a time when education was moreso based on the industrial age. This new building will be based on the technology age."

The new school is funded through the district's Rebuild HISD bond program. In 2002, voters approved an $808 million bond election to build and renovate dozens of campuses. Bruce Elementary Principal Joe Gonzales says the current campus is a dilapidated structure that's not safe or large enough for the student population. And the new school will meet the needs of the music magnet program.

"We're having a customized facilities. We're having practice rooms, we're having a special docking area for the band and the instruments, we're having a fantastic-looking auditorium. Of course, all the brand-new schools by HISD have state-of-the-art wireless, markboards, you name it. It's gonna have -- and it's a welcome addition, not just to the Bruce community, but to the Fifth Ward."

Hoffman says it's unusual for a community like the Fifth Ward to get a new facility like this.

"I'm glad we headed in that direction. It sparks new growth in our communities, and you'll see a lot of that going on as you can see around the Bruce area, Swiney Park, you'll also see it further in Fifth Ward. It may be against the trend, but HISD has always been on the cutting edge of doing things that aren't necessarily the -- consistent with other large urban school districts."

The new $15 million campus is scheduled to open for the 2007-2008 school year. It will absorb students from Anson and Crawford Elementary schools. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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