Brown Elementary abruptly closes due to structural concerns

Austin ISD Brown Elementary School
Austin ISD Brown Elementary School (KXAN Photo/Dani Guerrero)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Classes at T.A. Brown Elementary School in north Austin were cancelled on Friday, Nov. 4 due to “structural concerns.” A statement from Austin Independent School District said a recent engineer’s report brought the situation to light. An engineer was onsite for an assessment which was part of the Facility Master Plan process.

“We are working quickly to identify the best alternative for T.A. Brown Elementary School students in the long term,” said an AISD spokesperson in a written statement.

Several parents and students showed up for class and were turned away by an Austin ISD police officer posted at the school.

“I had no idea it was even going to be closed today,” said Camille Jones, a parent at the school. “My son said there was no school today, but I thought he was just being a kid.”

Last month, AISD school leaders revealed report cards on each of its buildings. They warned that without additional funds, the buildings would continue to crumble.

Based on the last structural assessment, the campus, which was built in 1957, got a poor grading in ceiling finishes, door and wall finishes. The same report shows an average grade for floor finishes and walls. For instance, engineers gave the school’s security and technology systems a “very unsatisfactory” mark. Its exterior, general building and classrooms received an “unsatisfactory” grade. T.A. Brown’s library was the only area in the building that garnered an excellent score.

Jones said she’s seen firsthand some of the building’s issues while picking and dropping off her kindergarten son, Saul.

“[It has] unleveled flooring,” Jones said. “There’s probably way more damage on the inside than on the outside.” Jones said the district should have completed proper repairs over the summer.

Right now, it’s not clear if classes will resume on Monday. The district plans to give updates when they have them.

The Texas Book Festival was scheduled to have authors present and read their books at the school today but the event had to be cancelled as well. In lieu of the cancellation, the festival will still give each student at T.A. Brown Elementary School an autographed copy of each of the presenting author’s books, and will still provide the school library with a new set of books.

To check an AISD School to see how the building rates, check here. During the whole month of October, the district held several public meetings to discuss the Facilities Master Plan and what parents and community leaders feel like every school needs in terms of infrastructure.

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