Pease rises from the ashes with federal renovation funding
By Brant Bingamon, 7:30AM, Mon. Sep. 4, 2023
The oldest public school in Austin is getting a new lease on life. On Sept. 1, Rep. Lloyd Doggett joined Austin ISD leaders at Pease Elementary School, closed in 2020, to announce that he had secured $3 million in federal funds to transform the school into a child care center for AISD employees.
Doggett said the old stone building will be renovated from the roof to the landscaping. The second floor will house offices for the United Way for Greater Austin, a partner on the project, and also learning labs for early childhood educators. The bottom floor will provide child care for up to 120 students, aged 6 months to 5 years.
The affordable child care will be a crucial resource for the district’s employees, Doggett said, allowing the district to more easily retain teachers and staff: “Child care expenses are just going through the roof. And we know that there is a retention issue for our public school teachers and staff here, like everywhere in Texas. So this serves as an opportunity to have an added benefit for our teachers and staff, for them to know that their children are learning and in a safe environment.”
Lynn Boswell, secretary of the AIDS Board of Trustees, spoke of the community engagement process that produced the current agreement and rejoiced that Pease will once again serve as a place of learning. “During many months of conversations with our community, one strong theme emerged: This building must continue to serve, not only for education, but as a school, filled every day with children,” Boswell said. “The partnership the Austin ISD Board approved last night is a beautiful example of that.”
In announcing the plans, Doggett spoke about the history of Pease, which sits just a few blocks west of the Capitol. “This property was set aside by the state of Texas back in 1839 for educational purposes. It’s one of the six oldest schools in the entire state of Texas, originally opening here in 1876 as the Austin Grade School House. I myself grew up two blocks north of here, on West Avenue.”
The new facility is expected to open in the fall of 2024.
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