Idea to sell Texas School for the Deaf property doesn't sit well with school administrators
AUSTIN, Texas - This week Senator John Whitmire, (D) Houston, suggested selling some of the land at the Texas School for the Deaf to pay for building maintenance there, but school administrators said that's not the solution they were hoping for.
"I have a lot of upset people. I have phone calls nonstop from parents," said Texas School for the Deaf Superintendent Claire Bugen.
The Texas Facilities Commission had identified dozens of repairs needed to buildings at the Texas School for the Deaf and presented it to the Senate Finance Committee on Monday.
"So I came up with an idea. I still have that idea and we need a grown up discussion about serving a community that needs our attention," said Whitmire.
Now people at the Texas School for the Deaf are afraid of what might happen to their campus.
"I think you only take that approach if you've been given the impression that financially it isn't feasible to repair and that just simply is not the case," said Bugen.
Whitmire said other lawmakers aren't willing to pay for the maintenance necessary to keep children at the school safe. That's why he started brainstorming other solutions.
"I do not believe the leadership of the legislature with their proposed tax cuts and their big budget items, like border security and transportation, plan to spend the money to make the School for the Deaf campus a first-class state-of-the-art facility," said Whitmire.
Bugen said reports that the school is in disarray are exaggerated.
"I think we could fix the things that are wrong without taking those kinds of dramatic actions," said Bugen.
The Texas School for the Deaf sits on 67 acres of prime Austin real estate and Bugen said they've had offers from other developers, but she said there's nowhere left for new construction.
The thought of selling off property has students like Zami Thompson worried.
"I want to grow up here until I get to college, and stay until I get to college, then when I go to college I might want to come back and teach," said Thompson.
"Getting out of my car this morning, I had kids waiting for me saying, 'Bugen, you have to fight to save our school,'" said Bugen.
Bugen said she hopes to work with Whitmire to find a different solution that serves School for the Deaf families without losing any of their facilities. Whitmire said the proposal is still in the preliminary stages and there is plenty of room for discussion and debate on the topic before making a decision.