AUSTIN (KXAN) — Students and teachers are back in the classroom across Austin Independent School District, and for some, that means new and improved schools.
The goal of Austin ISD’s 2017 bond program was to build new schools or modernize existing schools and even through the pandemic. Across the district, 18 schools were identified as needing upgrades, and one of those was Casis Elementary which had one of the worst facility condition assessments.
Casis was built in the 1950s, and since that time, there haven’t been any major upgrades until this year.
The school was torn down, and now you will find new buildings and features.
Classes have more space and can open up to the hallways. Furniture inside can be easily moved allowing teachers and students to move their desks across the room.
“It offers that social distancing as well as the collaborative opportunities throughout the classroom,” said Casis principal Samuel Tinnon, who has been at the elementary for nine years.
Casis teacher Andrea Rieck just moved into her new room, and she’s happy with the upgrades.
“I think the new learning spaces are going to be great to use,” Rieck said. “Small groups and individual learning. Things like that.”
Drew Johnson with Austin ISD’s construction management department says they have installed new air filtration systems, rooms and hallways now have more natural lighting and there was an emphasis on outdoor working spaces.
“The goal of modernization is to take a building, many times an old building that worked really well for us in the past, and bring it into the future,” Johnson said. “This project started construction over the summer of 2020. So we started this at the beginning of the pandemic. Phase one is delivered now and phase two will finish next summer. That is the library, admin space and their parking.”
The entire project cost just over $35 million. The school also increased capacity with the build, going from almost 700 to 800.
“It is so rewarding to know that we are getting what we envisioned,” Tinnon said.