Allan Elementary Public Meetings Begin

Public meeting at Eastside Memorial tonight

By Richard Whittaker, 9:15AM, Wed. Oct. 16, 2013

Allan Elementary Public Meetings Begin
Photo by Jana Birchum

With the odds of the Allan Campus in East Austin becoming an elementary looking slim to none, this evening staff from Austin Independent School District meet with the East Austin community to take public input on what to do with the former school.

The meeting is tonight, Wed. Oct. 16, at Eastside Memorial High School, 1012 Arthur Stiles Road, and will run 6.30-8.30pm. Childcare, refreshments and interpretation services will be provided.

The event will be run jointly by AISD communications staff and Austin Voices for Education and Youth. The non-profit's executive director Allan Weeks wrote, "We'll spend most of the time in small groups, so everyone will have plenty of time to share their ideas. Notes from the groups will be submitted to the Board of Trustees later in the week."

If you can't make it, there will be two further meetings – Nov. 6 and Dec. 4 – locations to be confirmed. According to Weeks, those discussions will be used to fine tune whatever comes out of tonight.

Citizens will also be able to give input online, at www.austinisd.org/community/allan/input.

Allan controversially closed as a neighborhood school in 2012 and was handed over to the IDEA Public Schools charter group to run. After huge public outcry, the district cancelled that contract, and has now taken full ownership of the campus again.

However, the number of elementary age kids in the attendance zone is dropping, so the community is now being asked for its view on what to do with the property. The district has now proposed a slate of options, from a dyslexia campus to staff training (see the full list here.) Community members are already coming up with their own proposals: For example, Pride of the Eastside spokesman Vince Tovar has suggested using part of the space for affordable housing, ensuring there will be at least some kids in the area.

The presence of Austin Voices for Education and Youth could be critical in this process. The non-profit has played a key and increasing role in the district's outreach in East Austin: Vital after the unmitigated community relations disaster of the IDEA Public Schools debacle. Most recently, they helped in the process of picking Johns Hopkins as the partner entity to help get Eastside Memorial back on its feet.

Options for the Allan Campus

Option 1: Lease to an Outside Entity
Start date: 2014. This could potentially include partners such as a dyslexia specialist.

Option 2: Repurpose for Administration

Start date: 2014. Both the Systemwide Testing and Information Services currently lease offices. By moving one or both to Allan, the district would save between $132,000 and $619,000 annually.

Option 3: A New School
Start date: 2015. Academic models proposed include a Pre-K center, dual language campus, a new home for the Alternative Learning Center, the controversial school for young men, or a career and technical education center, providing education for kids taking the new vocational track to graduation.

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