AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin elementary school in that abruptly closed last year because of structural concerns is being torn down starting Tuesday. The Austin Independent School District said demolition of the T.A. Brown Elementary School will make way for a brand new modern campus in its place.
The process is expected to take between five and six weeks, according to the district.
“It’s sad, but I understand you’ve got to move forward,” Jeanne Black, a teacher at the school for 15 years between the 1970s and ’80s, said as she watched the school being torn down.
Teaching fifth grade at T.A. Brown was Black’s first long-term job with AISD, where she started in 1974. “It was something I enjoyed every day,” she said. “I had wonderful children. All of my teammates were wonderful.”
T.A. Brown Elementary School, located along US 183 near North Lamar Boulevard, was built in 1957. Last year the district conducted engineering studies at various schools. Based on the results for T.A. Brown, it decided to cancel school and turned parents and students away at the door. It closed the campus for the remainder of the year and never reopened. Students and teachers ended up moving to nearby schools instead.
In June, the Travis County Taxpayers Union asked AISD to halt its demolition plans, concerned that the study exaggerated claims of structural deterioration. The engineering firm stood by its assessment.
Now, as the district tears down the building, it plans to recycle as much as it can. “Starting in June we went in and salvaged all the materials we could take to other schools,” AISD spokeswoman Cristina Nguyen said. “So that’s like clocks, door handles, doors, air conditioning parts.”
The school district is also planning to give bricks from the structure to the PTA, which can then sell the pieces of history as a fundraiser or give them away as keepsakes, Nguyen said.
Meanwhile, AISD is looking ahead. The district will build a brand new, fully modern school in the same spot. Money for rebuilding T.A. Brown Elementary is included in the AISD bond that voters will consider this upcoming November, one of 16 schools that will see upgrades or be rebuilt entirely if approved.