Austin ISD’s bond could bring improvements for Akins

Students in Brooke Maudlin’s Spanish class were stuck in her class because of a broken lock.

Ashley Caceres-Sanchez, News Editor

Akins could benefit from $17.9 million worth of improvements if Austin voters approve a set of bond issue propositions that are on the November 8 ballot.

The improvements at Akins are part of a larger $2.44 billion bond package for Austin ISD schools. On the ballot in November, voters will see three propositions that comprise the 2022 Bond. This includes $2,316,025,000 for general purpose improvements, $75,541,000 for technology and $47,434,000 for stadiums.

Specific improvement projects at Akins include the construction of a “secure entry vestibule,” CTE facility improvements, and a school mental health center among other general security and facility improvements. While many of these projects have support, Akins staff members say the lack of a plan to replace the campus’ more than 20 portable building classrooms, many of which are more than 20 years old, is a glaring omission.

Academy Director Bradley Lancaster said the poor conditions of the portable classrooms at Akins have been well known since the time he was a teacher about eight years ago. He said he literally stepped through the floor one time, causing a hole.

“The district comes in responds and patches up the hole right. But that was 10 years ago and here we are, right? Security wise, the portables are always kind of something that’s on the forefront of my mind. Because they’re out there by themselves. They’re not protected by the walls within the school.”

He said he also worries about doors that don’t always close securely and it can take a while for the district to do repairs. Considering the small number of security guards and School Resource Officers who regularly work on campus, having a well-maintained security features is important for a school as big as Akins.

Even with Akins being the newest high school in Austin ISD, it still has its share of needed repairs and maintenance.

“We actually have security officers trying to fix doors and their maintenance men too, right?” he said.

Lori Mayfield, who is the assistant principal for the Social Services Academy, hears directly from teachers in the portables about the daily problems they experience. She talks about how the portables are unsafe security-wise and health-wise.

“Some portables don’t have peepholes so let’s say a student is knocking on the door. Trying to be let in well, the only way to see who that student is is if you open the door.”
“Also, there was a report done a few years ago stating the mold and like the conditions of the portables and there wasn’t a whole lot done at the district level to respond to those reports,” she said.

The portables also suffer from leaks in their roofs and a lack of coverings to keep students out of the rain.

“When it rains, there are some portables that literally it leaks through the roof and the rain falls into the portables which is not safe and healthy,” she said. “Our teachers and students spend a lot of time out there and we want it welcoming and friendly and that’s not welcoming and friendly to walk into puddles when it’s raining.”