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Austin School Board Hears Space Reorganization Plan

May 14, 2018 11:11 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- After months of meetings, a community task force assembled to address space concerns at several schools in Austin presented their recommendations to the school board Monday night.

The 60-person group began work in January to find a new solution for the cramped quarters at several elementary schools and the Community Learning Center, which operates out of leased space at Queen of Angels Catholic Church.

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The proposal would move preschoolers from the Queen of Angels site into an expanded Woodson Kindergarten Center, which would then also house first graders. Second through fourth graders would attend classes at Banfield, Neveln and Southgate Elementary Schools, while Sumner Elementary School would become a district administrative building.

Removing the district offices would then free up space at Austin High School, which, while not a priority in the near future, will be needed long-term.

Task force member Craig Byram, who lives near Sumner, said several challenges with the building's location make it more suited to a district office and adult education space.

"(Sumner) doesn't have green space, it doesn't have opportunities for expansion in the future, it has parking troubles, it has other troubles because it's so landlocked," he told board members.

Byram said of the 23 options the task force considered, the one presented to the board is the most feasible.

"It solves many problems, it doesn't just focus on the most important problem right now," he said.

School board chairperson Angie Goetz, herself a member of the task force, said the group considered options at all price points before settling on the current plan, which would cost no more than $30 million.

"The most expensive idea was the building of a brand new high school," she said. "There were lots of configurations of building a new community learning center that stood alone, building a new elementary school."

The board will vote this summer on whether to move forward with the plan, which also requires state approval. The plan will then be presented to the community at several public meetings before voters get the final say in November.

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Logan Reigstad

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