AISD to open new school in Rundberg neighborhood


by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT GUEST

Posted on August 16, 2013 at 5:24 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 16 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- In about a week the Austin Independent School District will unveil the only new school it's opening this year -- Janis Guerrero-Thompson Elementary.

While AISD puts the finishing touches on the Northeast Austin campus, it's predicting a bright future for the school and the neighborhood children it will serve.

For Esmeralda and Amy Perez this school year is a fresh start. They're leaving their old campus behind and will now attend Guerrero-Thompson Elementary.

“They had drama over there (at my old school),” Amy said. “All drama.”

“They have cameras (here), and now no more bad drama happens,” Esmeralda said.

Inside the brand new school on Rundberg Lane Friday, more families waited to enroll their kids, and staff put the finishing touches on the colorful $30 million campus.

“We have 40 classrooms. Our mascot is the Grizzlies, and our colors are purple and orange,” said Principal LaKesha Drinks.

While Drinks prepares to welcome 600 students, she wants the entire community to feel at home there as well.

“Everyone is so happy to have this addition to their neighborhood,” she said.

Many were wondering why AISD's newest elementary school was built so close to another campus. Walnut Creek Elementary is just across the street, about 3,500 feet away.

“The board of trustees asked me that too,” said AISD’s Paul Turner. “Why are you building this school so close?”

Turner is the district’s executive director of facilities. He says with so much growth within a few mile radius, the Rundberg neighborhood was in desperate need of a new school.

“This is an area that's really been booming in terms of student population,” Turner said. “We keep thinking, 'Well this is going to level off,' but it hasn't.”

Guerrero-Thompson will take students from Walnut Creek, McBee and Wooldridge elementaries, all of which are severely overcrowded.    

The district wants the new school to be a positive impact on the community and help restore the Rundberg area's reputation.

“We are really focusing on involvement from the community, not just parents, but from the community in itself,” Drinks said.

“This is an important place where kids are going to learn and good things are going to happen,” Turner said.

Guerrero-Thompson Elementary is holding an open house on August 22 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. New students and the community are invited to see the new school and meet the teachers and the principal.

AISD says it will open another new school at Metric and Rundberg next fall.