The Austin Chronicle

Options for Allan: What & When?

By Richard Whittaker, October 4, 2013, News

Lease it, teach in it, or give it to admin. On Sept. 23, AISD Superintendent Meria Car­star­phen laid out three groups of options for the former Allan Elementary campus. Each comes with potential costs and savings, but the biggest difference is in the timeline. Trustees want to find a use before the new school year starts in September 2014. But converting the campus for any kind of new school could easily push that date back a year.

Option 1: Lease to an Outside Entity

Start date: 2014

The district calculates that it could earn $240,000 a year for leasing out up to 30,000 square feet. One proposal would involve working with an external dyslexia specialist. As Trustee Amber Elenz told her fellow board members, "There are probably 8,500 students in our district that deal with dyslexia issues."

Option 2: Repurpose for Administration

Start date: 2014

Historically, the district has leased commercial office space for some departments. The policy has been controversial, and the district moved away from it while developing the 2011 facility master plan. Two offices are nearing the end of the current leases: Systemwide Testing (June 2014) and Information Services (April 2015). 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

The board has considered five options.

New Alternative Learning Center campus

• Pre-K center

• Dual language campus, either pre-K through eighth grade or a middle school

• School for Young Men

• Career and Technical Education Center

Trustees also touched on the concept of multiple specialist academies sharing the space and designed to attract district students back from charter schools. Trustee Gina Hinojosa raised the possibility of a classical liberal arts academy, similar to the model of the Founders Classical Academy in Lewisville.

Any new school would create potential savings, but also building costs. The pre-K center would require $9.8 million in start-up costs, versus $6,457,500 for the dual language proposal, soaring to $16.7 million to build out the high school classrooms for a single-sex boys' campus.

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