Community voices support, disdain for AISD's facilities master plan recommendations

The draft District of Innovation plan was presented to the Austin ISD board of trustees at tonight's special board meeting.

The draft District of Innovation plan was presented to the Austin ISD board of trustees at tonight's special board meeting.

Over an hour was set aside at Monday night's Austin ISD board of trustees meeting for community members to share their thoughts on the recommendations put forth by the Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee, or FABPAC, for long-term facilities planning outlined in the facilities master plan. Constituents from many parts of the district turned out to advocate for their neighborhood schools.

Several parents appeared before the board to express their disdain for the recommended closure of Joslin Elementary School in Southwest Austin. Kate Mason-Murphy, a parent of two Joslin students, referenced the "long-standing relationship" the school has developed with surrounding entities, such as a nearby church, which hosts services at Joslin, and the numerous grants Joslin parents have been awarded to improve health and wellness for students.

"Being on your list ultimately stops our work," she said.

The recommended consolidation of Joslin with nearby elementaries is based on chronic underenrollment, according to the FABPAC's recommendations. Some parents said the school's lack of students is result of poor zoning decisions made by the district.

"Attendance boundaries have not been adjusted to boost Joslin's enrollment," Joslin parent Ryan Turner said. "Joslin’s underenrollment of 1 percent is in part the result of AISD's failure to consider basic demographic data or use best practices."

Numerous comments were also made on the proposed relocation of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy from East to Central Austin. Southwest Austin resident Rose Martinez spoke of the impact the commute has on her daughter.

"Going to bed at midnight does not support social-emotional learning or healthy lifestyles," she said. "Find a campus that is equidistant for students all over the city."

Other constituents urged board members to honor the FABPAC's recommendations.

"I have witnessed careful deliberation, creative problem-solving, balancing of needs and constraints, and respectful dialogue even on charged topics," LASA parent Ann Phipps said. "Do not diminish this outcome by second-guessing."

The FABPAC's recommendation to alleviate underenrollment at Dawson Elementary School by consolidating it with Galindo Elementary School within the next six to 12 years also drew a fair amount of parent disapproval. Dawson parent Michael Feferman said that contrary to the FABPAC's findings, he has noticed an uptick in young families in his neighborhood. He also expressed his concerns over the impact the consolidation would have on area traffic patterns.

"The numbers you are looking at do not accurately reflect the needs of our community," he said. "There will be traffic problems that will prevent us and our kids from having a good experience at Galindo."

Representatives from the FABPAC who were present at the meeting reiterated that proposed consolidations are subject to ongoing review and changes in demographic data.

Approval or denial of the recommendations for the facilities master plan is scheduled for a board vote in late March.
By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


Photo of shoppers eyeing a table of books
Texas Book Festival announces in-person and online events this fall

The annual festival will have a hybrid model this year after going virtual in 2020.

Raising Cane's sells chicken fingers, chicken sandwiches, crinkle-cut fries, Texas toast and more. (Courtesy Raising Cane's)
Raising Cane's to open 2nd Cedar Park restaurant; Tacodeli coming to Circle C and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Effective June 26, unemployed Texans will no longer be eligible to receive the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces end-date for Texans to receive federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits

Effective June 26, unemployed Texans will no longer be eligible to receive the $300 weekly unemployment supplement from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

Tacodeli co-owners Roberto Espinosa and Eric Wilkerson opened their first location in 1999. The seventh location for the local chain in Austin will open this summer in Circle C. (Courtesy Tacodeli)
Tacodeli to open a Circle C location this summer

The new location will be the seventh in Austin for the locally based chain, which first opened in 1999.

Photo of a girl weariing a mask and backpack
Austin ISD: mask policy to remain after new CDC guidance

The district said it would continue to require masks at least through the end of the current school year.

The city of Austin's Smart Mobility Office has partnered with Ford on self-driving vehicle initiatives. (Courtesy Ford Motor Company)
Austin's transportation department paving the way for rise in autonomous vehicle traffic

Several private companies are working on autonomous vehicle initiatives in Austin in addition to the city's own smart infrastructure planning.

Goodfolks plans to open in late July to early August. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
New restaurant coming to Georgetown; new Hutto community to have nearly 1K lots and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from Central Texas.

COVID-19 precautions such as a masking requirement remain in place at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)
'Signs of hope' on the horizon at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after year-plus dip in air travel

Rising passenger counts, new airline operations and an increase in vaccinations could all support the airport's recovery in 2021.

Capital Metro bus
Capital Metro announces increased transit services for Austin FC games this season

Capital Metro has increased the frequency of several bus routes for Austin FC game days at Q2 Stadium.

CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.