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AISD approves $25M for Sanchez modernization

An East Austin elementary school is getting millions of dollars in improvements. Monday night the Austin ISD school board voted for Sanchez to receive $25 million for modernization. (CBS Austin)

An East Austin elementary school is getting millions of dollars in improvements. Monday night the Austin ISD school board voted for Sanchez to receive $25 million for modernization.

Sanchez, Metz and Zavala were the three schools that were considered for the upgrade. At Monday's school board meeting, passionate parents said east Austin students are not valued or given the same opportunities to succeed. One group said they're gearing up to sue the district.

"Our parents, our teachers, our children at East Austin schools have been making sacrifices for too long," says AISD parent Lila Valencia.

The district's decision for $25 million to be spent on modernizing Sanchez Elementary leaves the long-term fates of Metz and Zavala Elementaries unclear. At the school board meeting, multiple speakers argued that an investment in Sanchez is a misuse of the bond money voters approved for future Eastside students.

"At the end of the day, the tax payer money that was promised to the Eastside community will fact end up at Austin High School," Isai Pozos, a Metz Elementary parent and former Metz student said.

"Why are East Austin's elementaries being put in competition with one another as if they are not pat of the same neighborhoods?" asked Sanchez parent Julia Exhternach.

Before the meeting some parents rallied outside the boardroom doors.

"This district doesn't care about what's happening in East Austin," said civil rights attorney Jim Harrington.

Harrington said their group is now exploring plans to sue the school district.

"We are committed that this is going to change," he said.

Since January campus planning teams have been working to determine which elementary school to modernize. Sanchez became the front runner because of the campus's footprint in East Austin, the way the hallways are set up and the accessibility to the Mexican American cultural center. District staff say AISD is investing in East Austin-- with a total of $57 million going toward Go Valle and this modernized elementary school this week.

"We're just really excited for the amount of money and advancement that AISD is investing into the Eastside schools," said Jocelyn Connell, supervisor of community engagement of AISD.

Connell said the modernization will better prepare students for the future.

"We're taking the schools -- which they've all been built many years ago in the 40s, 50s, and 60s -- so, what we're doing is we are hoping to provide more modern space for our students to learn so that they can be better equipped for modern day jobs," said Connell

A significant point of contention is what will happen to the non-modernized schools. The district said their goal is to keep all three schools permanently open. All campuses will remain open for at least another year and a half. Discussions of any consolidations are expected to begin in December 2020.

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