Construction continues on two Austin school district buildings that are set to open this academic school year. The two sites – a performing arts center in the Mueller development and Jaime D. Padron Elementary School near Rundberg Lane and U.S. Highway 183 – will meet the needs of Austin's expanding population.
The new performance arts center isn’t expected to be complete until November, with grand opening events in January of next year. But the shell of the 1,200-seat auditorium is already visible. The center will house everything from performance and rehearsal rooms, to a recording studio and a kiln for visual art.
Greg Goodman is the director of AISD’s fine arts department. He says enhancing the districts' arts programs is a part of a broader mission to educate the whole child. “The more active kids are engaged in fine arts, the higher attendance, higher graduation rate, higher state test performance, higher grades less discipline referral rates,” Goodman says.
The project is part of the 2008 bond program, which allocated about $40 million for construction. Once complete, Austin will join other nearby districts that have separate performing arts centers, including Hays, Round Rock and Georgetown. The center could also be used for graduation at smaller schools, like Ann Richards and the Garza Independence High School. The district says it could charge an undetermined fee for outside use.
Meanwhile, a bit farther north, construction is wrapping up at a new elementary school in north central Austin. Instead of constructing a whole new building, the district retrofitted an existing warehouse to create a 57-classroom building. Scott Rouse with the district’s construction management department says as Austin continues to grow, retrofitting existing buildings will become more common.
“Except for schools south and southeast where real estate is still available," Rouse says, "I would think … adaptive reuse is going to be something that’s pretty important, or a route that the district is going to have to go in the future to accommodate students.”
The school will be ready to open next month. It’s expected to serve 750 neighborhood students, most of which are bilingual and qualify for free and reduced lunch. The school is named for slain Austin Police officer Jaime D. Padron, who was killed in 2012.