Committee forming to conduct study of space at preschool, elementaries

A community committee is forming to study space needs at the Community Learning Center, as well as the local elementary schools.

CLC Director Amy Baskin notified the Austin School Board on Dec. 11 that the first meeting would be from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29 at the Austin Public Library large meeting room.

Committee members will help conduct an “environmental scan” — a review of the district’s growing enrollments and available space, with a concentration on not only preschool space, but up to fourth grade as well.

The CLC, located at Queen of Angels Catholic Church, not only houses the district’s preschool and school-age child care programs, but Early Childhood Family Education, Early Childhood Special Education, Community Education and Austin Adult Learning.

The CLC is already utilizing eight classrooms at Queens, as well as one at Woodson Kindergarten Center and three at Sumner Elementary School. The CLC serves 275 students.

The decision to study space at elementary schools, said Baskin, just makes sense.

“We don’t want to miss an opportunity to look into the future (for these properties), so we are making this a broader process,” she said.

Use of Queens has long been appreciated, she said.

“It has been a great partnership,” she said.

But there are issues to be addressed, most of them having to do with space.

The classrooms at Queens are 800 square feet, which are much smaller than today’s classrooms, which range from 1,000-1,400 square feet. Classrooms for the younger ages today have bathrooms and closet space, which are missing at Queens, which was built in the 1930s.

There are waiting lists for students, she said, but lack of space brings limitations.

“We just can’t serve more students,” she said.

The committee will look at current and future enrollments, space needs, challenges facing the current space and other options.

District administration, as well as ATS&R, a Minneapolis-based architectural, planning and engineering firm, will work with the committee.