After considering turning the front of a historic school building into a visitors center or museum, city officials have decided against the move, throwing the future of the beloved art deco structure into uncertainty.
“The district is now working through other options, but has not made any decisions yet,” said Sydney Hunt, spokeswoman for the Clear Creek Independent School District.
The school district’s Board of Trustees in November approved design plans for a new $45 million Clear View High School, one of many projects included in a $487 million bond issue voters approved in May 2017. The new 82,000-square-foot building would have a capacity for 350 students and would have 24 classrooms, officials said.
But the new building would come at the expense of the old one, a structure that opened in 1938, has an art deco vibe popular in government structures of the 1930s and opened as Webster High School.
Facing the possibility of losing the structure, Webster city officials in December began discussing plans to turn the front into a visitors center or museum, developments officials initially estimated would cost from $3 million to $4 million.
“The political will is there to do it,” Webster City Manager Wayne Sabo said in a previous interview with The Daily News. “It’s a matter of figuring out the financial means to do it.”
But in recent months the thinking has changed.
“Our budget projections for the end of this year and for the next fiscal year are currently not meeting expectations and other projects are taking priority,” Sabo said.
Declining retail sales are to blame for the reduced budget projections, given that most of the city’s income is dependent on sales tax, Sabo said.
But Webster’s 2018-2019 fiscal budget includes more than $45.6 million in total revenues and about $40.4 million in total expenditures, according to city documents.
While the city’s decision is a setback for the structure, it also isn’t a certainty the structure will be demolished.
Hunt on Thursday said she would provide updates once district officials make a final determination on what to do with the school.
The new school is being built near the old one, but not at the same site, officials said. So, students will continue attending classes in the old building until the new school is complete, officials said.
Projections are that the new building will be finished in August 2020, district officials have said.