AUSTIN, Texas -- As the Austin Independent School District grapples with multi-million dollar budget shortfalls and declining enrollment officials say the time to act is now.

  • AISD hosted final community meeting
  • Facing a multi-million budget shortfall
  • Weighing options to consolidate schools, repurpose buildings

One option is to consolidate schools and repurpose buildings.

“Through the repurposing process we’re looking at using that space and that building for community benefit. Whether that be for an art center, affordable housing, park land—all of those things are under discussion,” Reyne Telles, executive director of AISD's Department of Communications & Community Engagement said.

School closures means some buildings may become vacant. During a public meeting, Austin's Chief Equity Officer Brion Oaks offered up some advice to district officials as they decide what becomes of those spaces.

“If you’re looking at this opportunity of repurposing some of your facilities it really starts with being in co-creation with the community that’s surrounding that facility,” Oaks said.

Getting neighbors to weigh in on what happens to shuttered school buildings, they say, is critical. One of them suggested potentially flipping those spaces into affordable housing.

“We’re very committed to doing what we can to mitigate that displacement risk and to bring folks back that might have chosen to leave for those affordability reasons,” Rosie Truelove, director of the city's housing finance corporation said.

Some said the district has to be mindful of different areas of the district

“It may look different for each neighborhood that has a facility that has an opportunity to be repurposed,” Oaks said.

For now, all options are on the table. The district insists no campuses have been singled out for closure and they're not ready to produce a list until they've gotten more feedback on community needs and wants.