Austin (KXAN) — It was ahead of its time when it was built in 1939.
Robert E. Lee Elementary was the first Austin ISD school fueled by natural gas instead of coal, but nobody is talking about that piece of history.
For months, the campus has been at the center of a heated debate involving the name on the outside. Parents, past students, neighbors and community members are divided on the Confederate general’s role in history, and whether or not the school that was built in 1939 should bear his name. The school’s name was brought into question after the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Their state leaders removed the flag from federal grounds.
The Lee Elementary Campus Advisory Council recommended renaming the school and initiating a renaming process for the campus. Monday night, the administration will be recommending that the school board side with the CAC.
In a newsletter to parents posted on the school’s website Friday, Principal John Hewlett wrote the following:
“Next week the AISD Board of Trustees are scheduled to vote on whether or not to change the name of our school. I ask that we remain as united as possible during this time. While there are strong opinions on both sides of this complicated issue, we are all part of an amazing school community. It is our students and the desire to provide them with the very best educational opportunities that bring us together. I am asking that we remain focused on the very important things that unite us all.”
The decision is expected to draw a crowd as its done every time the issue shows up on the agenda. Several board members have expressed a desire to stop dragging out a decision so they can spend more time on other items directly impacting the classroom.
Other issues the Austin ISD board will tackle Monday night
Trustees will also vote on opening up the proposal process for ten “non-instructional” AISD properties owned by the district. During the last work session trustees called this an “exploration exercise” to see the ideas that may come forward for the following pieces of land and buildings:
- Vacant Land located at the Central Warehouse property
- Vacant Land located on Doris Drive
- Vacant Land located on Loyola Lane
- Vacant Land located at the Service Center property
- Vacant Land located on Tannehill Lane
- Vacant Land located in Travis Country
- Austin Club
- Baker Administration Center
- Carruth Administration Center
- Allan Facility (formerly Allan Elementary & IDEA Allan)
The board is also set to make a decision on school uniforms for Lee Lewis Campbell Elementary School. The principal has secured funding to cover the $5,000 cost each year, making the uniforms free to parents.
The district is looking at downsizing their custodial staff over the next three years to save money. The board is voting on a plan to cut 60 custodian positions through attrition, which means when people leave they will not fill those spots. It should eventually save AISD $1,953,360. The plan includes a pilot program on nine campuses to test out moving custodians to a night shift so they can clean when the campuses are empty.