The El Paso (Texas) district is finalizing plans to move its planetarium from the district's central offices to one of its elementary school campuses.
The El Paso Times reports that the district is getting a $900,000 grant from the city of El Paso to relocate the Gene Roddenberry Planetarium to Crosby Elementary School.
The planetarium is expected to open its doors at its new location in early 2021.
The school district has to vacate its headquarters by the end of 2020 when its lease with the city comes to an end. The district has leased the space from the city since 1963 and will move its central offices to a site acquired two years ago.
The $951,102 grant, which the city received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, requires the school district to contribute $208,778 for the relocation.
As part of the move, the district will renovate Crosby Elementary's multipurpose building so it can accommodate the planetarium's 40-foot dome. This will include installing a new roof, demolishing the school's band room to create parking, and building a star gazing park.
The planetarium is being moved to Crosby Elementary even though that campus is slated for closure at the end of the 2020-21 school year. It is slated to be consolidated with Dowell and Schuster elementary schools and re-open as Coach Archie Duran Elementary School in fall 2021 at the existing Dowell site.
The grant application notes that Crosby was selected, in part, because it will meet a federal Community Development Block Grant requirement to "benefit people of low- and moderate-incomes."
Although owned and operated by school district, the planetarium — the only one in the El Paso region — presents shows for students from other school districts, in addition to free public programming during the summer. The relocation will help increase annual attendance to 50,000 visits by 2024, according to the application, up from about 37,500 visits.
The district has made no plans for what will happen with the rest of the Crosby campus, a district spokesman says. Construction on the new planetarium won't affect the day-to-day activities of Crosby students, he says.