New school bears the name of slain Austin police officer

AUSTIN -- The Austin Independent School District is opening a new school this fall. It was built to relieve overcrowding in North Austin. The school also bears the name of an Austin police officer killed in the line of duty. District officials and the media took a tour of the new campus this morning.

In October of last year, AISD broke ground on what was then called 'North Central Elementary School No. 2.'

Now the school is known as Jaime D. Padron Elementary doors open this fall .

The site used to be a manufacturing warehouse.

"It was about 130 square feet comprised of two buildings. What we did was come in and constructed a second floor in one of the buildings," said Scott Rouse, AISD's project manager.

Crews even made the old loading block numbers look more like building blocks.

Now at a whopping 143,000 square feet, this will be AISD's largest elementary.

And inside, shades of purple, orange, green and more catch your eye.

"Did you see the colors around? This school has beautiful colors for the kids," said Principal Rafael Soriano. "They're going to love it."

The district built 21 skylights in interior classrooms and hallways to make sure no corner of the campus is dreary.

The school has 57 classrooms, art, music, multipurpose and computer rooms as well as six common areas.

There's also a large covered playground for kids to enjoy, rain or shine.

"I've never seen a school that has such a big covered playground so any time of the year these kids are going to be protected and they'll be able to use the outside," Soriano said.

The new school cost about $20 million to build, and Rouse says there were some advantages to using a preexisting site to create this campus.

"We did save a lot of cost in foundation work, exterior material that type of thing," he said.

But there's one thing you won't see at Padron Elementary: a school bus.

"We're not going to have any buses come to this campus, it's all going to be walkers," Rouse said. "There will be a crossing guard or representative from the city that will meet at the officers of each apartment complex, they'll meet the kids there and then they'll walk them to school."

A new security feature on the campus is a panic button in the main office, and another in the kindergarten area.

There are also additional cameras around the exterior of the building and on the second floor.

The campus opens this fall.

On Tuesday, the district also gave KVUE a sneak peak of its new Performing Arts Center.

Click the player below for an exclusive tour of the new Performing Arts Center.

The 1,200-seat auditorium, between 51st Street and Barbara Jordan Boulevard, was built to host the hundreds of AISD band, orchestra, theater, dance and visual arts performances that occur year round.

Seventeen AISD middle schools don't have an auditorium. The district says this facility will make sure every student has a place to showcase their talents.

Voters approved both Padron Elementary and the Performing Arts Center as part of the $343.7 million 2008 bond program.


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