Multi-million dollar donation to HSPVA stirring debate

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Multi-million dollar donation to HSPVA creating debate

A $7.5 million donation would seem the stuff of dreams for a school district.

Friday, the Kinder Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by Houston billionaire Richard Kinder, and his wife Nancy, announced the multi-million dollar gift to the Friends of HSPVA. The High School for Performing and Visual Arts is an acclaimed school for students in performing, visual and literary arts.

Getting in to the school is talent-based, and admission is said to be harder than a top-tier university.

The school will be moving to a new campus downtown in two years, in a new building constructed with $80 million in bond money from the district's bond election four years ago.

"The money will let classes begin after the ribbon is cut," said Friends of HSPVA executive director Alene Coggins. "It will pay for soundproof rehearsal rooms, an orchestra pit, a state-of-the-art dance floor, and advanced audio and visual equipment. It will also help with the commons area and help with maintenance over time."

In return, the new campus would be called The Kinder High School for Performing and Visual Arts.

The group's goal was $10 million. With the Kinder gift, the goal was a lot closer to being met.

And then came the agenda briefing today at HISD.

Board member Jolanda Jones described herself as being "hotter than fish oil" over the donation and the name change. "Everybody thought the name was going to be for the auditorium," Jones said. "Our schools are not for sale."

Several trustees said they were told the naming rights was for the school performing arts auditorium; however, it was pointed out that will be named for a former HSPVA administrator. HISD's new superintendent said he has been given the same information.

Jones blames secrecy for the issue, stating that she learned of the donation in a press release issued Friday.

The school board is scheduled to consider the issue Thursday, as part of its regular board meeting.

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