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

TX women’s program makes gains after years of waning participation
TX women’s program makes gains after years of waning participation

A state health program for low-income women served more patients, attracted more providers and put more women on long-acting reversible contraception last year than in prior years, according to a report released Thursday. Even with the improvements, it’s unclear whether the program, called Healthy Texas Women, is serving more women than before...
Bastrop bar sued, accused of airing Mayweather-Pacquiao 'fight of the century' without purchasing rights
Bastrop bar sued, accused of airing Mayweather-Pacquiao 'fight of the century' without purchasing rights

A company that licenses the rights to air pay-per-view boxing matches is suing a bar in Bastrop, accusing the bar of illegally showing the so-called “fight of the century” in 2015 in which five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao in a boxing match in Las Vegas. J&J...
Explosive device with note found outside Beaumont Starbucks, police say
Explosive device with note found outside Beaumont Starbucks, police say

Police found an “explosive device” at a Starbucks in Beaumont early Thursday. “The device, believed to be a legitimate explosive device, was rendered safe by the FBI and ATF bomb technicians,” Beaumont police said in a statement.  As a result, Beaumont police are urging their community not to open or touch suspicious...
Austin City Council renames two streets named for Confederate leaders
Austin City Council renames two streets named for Confederate leaders

Robert E. Lee Road and Jeff Davis Avenue are no more after the Austin City Council on Thursday voted to remove the names of the Confederate leaders from the two Austin streets that bear their names. Instead the road that ambles along Barton Creek into the Zilker neighborhood will be named for Azie Taylor Morton, the country’s first and only black...
Onyeri guilty on all 17 counts in case tied to Judge Kocurek shooting
Onyeri guilty on all 17 counts in case tied to Judge Kocurek shooting

A federal jury returned guilty verdicts on all 17 counts against the Houston man accused of shooting Travis County state District Judge Julie Kocurek to preserve a white-collar criminal enterprise that swept up victims in Southeast Texas, Louisiana and Austin. The verdict that could send 30-year-old Chimene Onyeri to prison for the rest of his life...
More Stories