District facing space issues; Committee formed to review needs of elementary schools

Published 8:40 am Saturday, January 27, 2018

A tightening of space at the Austin school district’s Community Learning Center, located at Queen of Angels Catholic Church, has prompted formation of a community committee to review space needs in elementary schools.

The first meeting will be from 5-7 p.m. on Monday at the Austin Public Library, in the large meeting room.

According to CLC Director Amy Baskin, the committee will conduct an “environmental scan” which reviews the district’s growing enrollments and available space, from preschool to fourth grade.

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The CLC, which serves 275 students, might be the most heavily pressured for more space. In addition to preschool and school-age childcare programs, it houses Early Childhood Family Education, Early Childhood Special Education, Community Education and Austin Adult Learning. The CLC is already using eight classrooms at Queens, one at Woodson Kindergarten Center and three at Sumner Elementary School.

Baskin said there are other issues at Queens — not unusual for a building constructed in the 1930s.

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, she said in December, when it was first announced the study would take place.

Classrooms for the younger ages today have bathrooms and closet space, which are missing at Queens. There are waiting lists for students, she said, but lack of space brings limitations. “We just can’t serve more students,” she said at the December School Board meeting.

The decision to study space needs in other schools just makes sense, she said, adding that the district doesn’t want to lose an opportunity to “look into the future (for the other schools) so we are making this a broader process,” Baskin 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.