Taxpayers Union claims AISD exaggerated damage to TA Brown elementary


The Travis County Taxpayers Union has asked the Austin school district to halt any plans to demolish T.A. Brown Elementary, alleging the structural damages that prompted the sudden closure of the school were exaggerated to win over voters for a proposed November bond election.

The Austin school board is slated to call for the bond election on Monday night. While the list of projects and dollar amount is not yet finalized, trustees are in consensus that rebuilding Brown will be included in it.

The school was shuttered abruptly in November after engineers, performing an assessment of the school, alerted district officials that the floor supports under the classroom wings and cafeteria had deteriorated so badly that they feared a portion of the floor framing could collapse. The engineers also said the damage is too costly to fix.

The taxpayers’ advocacy group, which is headed by former Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman, says it suspects that engineering studies “exaggerated claims of structural deterioration at T.A. Brown Elementary, and possibly other facilities, for the political motivation of gaining voter sympathy and support for the exorbitant $1 billion bond contemplated for Nov. 2017.”

The group is requesting another structural inspection from a separate structural engineering consultant.

The district did have a second set of structural engineers who validated the consultant’s work and found it was a meaningful assessment, said Nicole Conley Johnson, the district’s CFO.

“The safety and security of our students is our top priority,” said Superintendent Paul Cruz, responding to the group’s claims. “Our taxpayers and parents can be assured that we made the decision to close T.A. Brown Elementary School with extensive information from trusted engineers with our students in mind.”

Zimmerman has also submitted to the district a public information request asking for the condition assessment reports for Brown Elementary, correspondence, contracts and other documents.

A building-by-building assessment, which determined one-in-three of the district’s buildings are in poor condition, was part of a months-long review of all the district’s schools that informed a 25-year facility master plan approved in April that aims at modernizing the district and all of its schools.

The district’s average facility is 40 years old, though some have reach centennial birthdays. District leaders have said the closure of Brown underscores the problems at some schools.

Brown Elementary, located on W. Anderson Lane in north Austin, was built in 1957, and originally contained 12 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria and a media room, according to district records. At the time of closure, the school had about 360 students who were sent to two other campuses after the district said it was structurally unsafe to keep educating them there.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Judge says kidnapped sisters should stay in foster home for now
Judge says kidnapped sisters should stay in foster home for now

A Williamson County judge on Tuesday determined that two sisters safely recovered in Colorado after being kidnapped will remain in foster care while screenings are being done on relatives who have expressed interest in raising them. Lilianais Victoria Griffith, 14, and Luluvioletta Bandera-Margret, 8, were abducted from their Round Rock home where...
TEXAS DIGEST: Suspect on Texas 10 Most Wanted list caught

PUBLIC SAFETY Suspect on Texas 10 Most Wanted list caught A suspect on the Texas 10 Most Wanted list has been caught in California after months on the run. The Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday announced the arrest of 32-year-old Blake Everett Reed. A DPS statement says Reed was captured Sunday at a home in Cayucos, Calif. Investigators...
Trump names Austin lawyer Alan Albright to federal bench

President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated Austin lawyer Alan Albright to be a federal district judge in Waco. Albright, 58, specializes in intellectual property litigation as a partner in the Bracewell law firm and served as a U.S. magistrate judge in Austin from 1992-99. Albright also is a former adjunct professor who taught trial advocacy at the...
Police: Teen claims ‘fatal attraction’ before stabbing woman in face
Police: Teen claims ‘fatal attraction’ before stabbing woman in face

Austin police issued a warrant Tuesday for a 17-year-old woman who reportedly broke into a man’s East Austin home and maimed his girlfriend. The man told police he awoke to “loud commotion” on Jan. 13 and saw Taneese Mackey in his bedroom. Mackey and the man’s girlfriend argued and wrestled before Mackey stabbed her in the face...
Manor police: Suspected drunken driver drove van with kids off bridge
Manor police: Suspected drunken driver drove van with kids off bridge

Manor police say a suspected drunken driver drove a minivan carrying his wife and three children off a 50-foot bridge and into a creek on Saturday night. Desire Lukusa, 41, faces charges of child endangerment and driving while intoxicated, according to Manor police. An arrest affidavit filed Sunday says officers received reports about 10:30 p.m. of...
More Stories