Former Houston School building sold to Boys and Girls Club for $100,000

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

May 22, 2007 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District on Monday finalized an agreement with Hopkins County Boys & Girls Clubs for the purchase of Houston School for $100,000, which will be paid out over the next few years.

Staff Photo by Angela PItts

Sulphur Springs ISD school board members Clay Johnson (left) and Foy Williams, joined by SSISD Director of Plant Operations Dale Guest (back) and Superintendent Patsy Bolton, tour one of the eight new ECLC classrooms during an open house held Monday.

"We hope to do a lot of remodeling, a new roof, quite a bit of repair," said Charles Dawson, B&G Club board president. "We're going to take up the gravel the county had for parking and make it into a playground again. We have great hopes for it. It's a great plus."

Dawson said that the B&GC board hopes to begin construction at the Houston School facility in June. They will also be making repairs to the gymnasium and outside of the structure, and will be installing a chain link fence around the entire facility.

"We've wanted something like this for a long time," Dawson said. "We worked with [SSISD Superintendent Patsy] Bolton and her board, and feel it's the right move."

The greatest advantage in purchasing Houston for B&GC is the gymnasium and extra classrooms and space. They'll still need more funds to make the repairs and obtain more furniture to outfit the new rooms, and would also like to expand the club's library and buy more playground equipment.

"We want to make Houston something the neighborhood can be proud of," Dawson said, noting that he, like many others, attended Houston School and still has many happy memories wrapped up in it.

Once it is ready for children, the Boys & Girls Club’s Houston Street location will be packed up and relocated to the updated Houston School facility, and the Houston Street property put up for sale.

In addition to the Houston Street location, the Boys & Girls Club, serves junior high students at Wesley United Methodist Church, 130 students at Cumby Independent School District gymnasium, and offers college preparatory assistance for about 20 students at Pacific Park.

The club's board members hope that they will be able to move as many as possible of the city locations into the updated Houston School facility, and eventually grow and maintain membership of current students through high school.

"We're at capacity at Houston Street," Dawson said. "We don't pretend to be a license day care, but we do provide a central, safe place for kids to have fun and be after school."

Dawson said some former Houston School students have already pledged to donate money, labor or services to help upgrade the Houston School location.

"We welcome any input, support and volunteers from the community, and are happy to have anybody help out," Dawson said "We're really appreciative of all the support and help, and are real appreciative of Patsy Bolton and the entire board  for working with us to bring this about."

Anyone interested in donating or volunteers with Boys and Girls Club should contact Dawson at work at 120 Jefferson St., or by calling 903-885-0555, or stop by the Houston Street main B&G Club location.

Bolton said the sale of Houston School, coupled with the completion of the new additions at Early Childhood Learning Center, will create a "ripple effect" for the school district in terms of relocations.

The agreement allows the district to continue the five-week summer school classes scheduled to be held at Houston School, then will move its Alternative Learning Academy and alternative programs into the west wing of the school, which currently houses the special education department offices. 

The contract includes a provision which allows the alternative programs to remain in the west side of the building for up to 5 years, which SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton said should give the school district enough time to find a permanent location for the program.

The alternative program move is to be completed by Aug. 1, which should give the special education department enough time to move its offices into the building behind the Administration Building in the rooms currently occupied by Beginnings Learning Center classes. BLC students will be moving to Early Childhood Learning Center, which is shifting its older classes to four recently constructed classrooms, leaving space for the BLC classes.

The deal came at just the right time. The ECLC additions were just completed, with the open house immediately following the board meeting Monday afternoon. The ECLC moves will begin as soon as class is out this week, and continue next week, according to ECLC principal Sherrie Finney.

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