Repurposing Pease Elementary School

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Overview

Pease Elementary School is a 35,704 square foot school facility constructed in 1953 situated on a 2.17 acre site located downtown just blocks away from the Texas State Capitol bordered by West Avenue, West 12th Street, Rio Grande Street and West 11th Street.

The Pease site is very important to the history of Austin ISD, the city of Austin, and the state of Texas:

  • 1902: The school is renamed Pease Elementary after the 4th governor of Texas, Elisha Pease.
  • 1976: Pease celebrates 100 years and is rededicated. The original school bell is returned after being at AISD headquarters since 1949.
  • 2013: Pease becomes a registered Texas Historic Landmark

Pease closed after the 2019-2020 school year. The Pease facility will be repurposed to support districtwide educational purposes. This plan for the site will be designed in collaboration with the Austin community to preserve the history of AISD and our school communities within a historically significant building. This scenario preserves the Pease site, with limited need for demolition or new construction.

Current Status

On August 31, 2023, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved authorizing the Superintendent to enter negotiations and execute a lease agreement with United Way for Greater Austin to operate a year-round early childhood education center at Pease.  Review the agenda item and related documents.

With its almost 100-year presence in Austin, expertise in best practices around early childhood education, and proven track record as a facilitator of mature coalitions, United Way is uniquely positioned to utilize the space at Pease. Under the banner of United Way, a coalition of child and family advocates - including providers, parents, policymakers, civic leaders, and experts - came together almost 20 years ago and formed what is now known as “Success By 6” with the goal that all children enter school happy, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and in life. Centering that work at Pease will enable that coalition to work alongside the high-quality childhood education services offered by Goodwill Central Texas, providing the Austin community a unique nonprofit partnership with highly qualified staff, a stimulating and innovative learning environment, and a pipeline connecting students and families to Austin ISDs strong educational system.

United Way envisions Pease as an innovative, community-centered space that welcomes children and families from diverse backgrounds and offers programming that inspires a sense of belonging. The early childhood center will be responsive to need and implement equity-based pricing. In addition to accepting public childcare subsidies, Goodwill will develop a sliding-scale tuition structure based on data collected related to the community and community needs.

United Way seeks to offer opportunities beyond early childhood education at the site as well, particularly focused on Austin ISD student workforce development, educational observations, continuing education, and professional development. They plan to leverage the relationships and coalition partners United Way has cultivated over the years to bring opportunities in hands-on learning, career talks, paid part-time work, and internships to the Pease campus.

United Way is targeting a Fall 2024 opening.

Process

Pease is in a unique situation because according to the state of Texas, the campus must serve an educational purpose. To satisfy the requirement that the site fulfills an educational purpose, it must meet at least one or more of the criteria below:

  • The new use is interactive, in whole or in part, with teachers and students.
  • The new use is already offered in other District facilities.
  • The new use is deemed to be a “permanent” use versus an “ad hoc” use.
  • The new use is a programmatic use supported by District educational policies.
  • The new use is educational in nature.

Phase 1: Equity and Community Engagement

From January 2022 – March 2022, the district hosted a series of community meetings and solicited input from the community members and stakeholders about their needs and how the site could best respond to those needs while satisfying the above mentioned requirements. The top priorities were identified:

  • Honor the school’s history and legacy
  • Reopen the site as an all-transfer elementary school
  • Leverage the site to expand programs at nearby schools
  • Daycare and early childhood education programs
  • Support early college high school programs and STEM

Phase 2 and 3: Real Estate, Financial and Economic Analysis

The district assembled an internal committee consisting of representatives from academics, school leadership, finance, operations and construction management to assess the feasibility of the potential uses identified by the community. The following were the committee’s key findings:

  • Address current deficiencies prior to any future reuse including fire and life safety, mechanical, electric, plumbing and the identified presence of asbestos and lead based paint
    • Current need is $1.8 million; ten-year need is $4 million
  • District enrollment does not support opening another school and the annual operating budget for an elementary school at Pease is not sustainable
  • Does not meet current educational specifications, including security, site circulation for bus and parent drop-off, and classroom size and configuration
  • Modernization would require significant renovation and would reduce capacity

The district then created a high-level development strategy to ensure that the repurposed site continues to benefit the community, while helping the District to advance its academic, staff recruitment and retention needs.

Phase 4: Presentation of Findings and Recommended Actions

The findings from this plan were presented to the community through a series of community meetings held in September 2022 to solicit feedback and provide further direction for the repurposing of the site. The district heard the following:

  • Overwhelming support for early childhood education
    • Honors the legacy of the school
    • Prepare students for Kindergarten
    • Helps women to return to work / maintain steady employment
    • Critical amenity for workers due to real shortage in Austin
  • Concerns about code requirements / building condition
  • Want to see gymnasium, outdoor space and playground more accessible to the public 
  • Interest to incorporate the arts if building can be multi-use

 

Phase 5: Implementation

On March 23, 2023, the Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution to direct the Interim Superintendent to identify a partner to operate a high quality affordable early childhood education center.  Review the agenda item and a copy of the resolution.

The District issued a public request for proposal in April 2023, which was advertised in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper as required by Education Code 44.031 (a), (g) and posted on Bonfire (Website utilized by AISD Purchasing). Proposals were received from three vendors: 

  • Learning Care Group
  • United Way for Greater Austin
  • Young Mens Christian Association of Austin

The submitted proposal were evaluated to determine if the offer provides the best value to the District using the factors stipulated in Education Code 44.031 (b) and predetermined factors specifically listed in the request for proposals. After a comprehensive evaluation, United Way for Greater Austin was determined to provide best value to the district. Key factors include the demonstrated qualifications of the organization, offered programs and services, experience, and educational partnership.

Aerial Map

Key Information

  • 1106 Rio Grande St.,
    Austin, TX 78701
  • Property ID: 196675
  • Lot Size: 2.17 acres
  • Building Size: 35,704 SF
  • Year Built: 1953
  • Parking: 58 stalls
  • Zoning: UNZ