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Mueller Residents Mull a Middle School on Undeveloped Land

Miguel Guitierrez Jr. for KUT News
Parents and residents met last night to discuss the future of a piece of land in the Mueller development that was set aside for construction of a neighborhood school.

Austin public school parents and Northeast Austin residents gathered Thursday night to talk through possibilities for a planned school in the Mueller development. Some support the idea to build a middle school on the land. 

Parents and residents split up into focus groups to discuss options for the 10-acre site in Mueller. They were asked to weigh various questions:

  • What kind of curriculum do you want in the school?
  • What kind of partnerships do you want the school to create with businesses or nonprofits?
  • What grades should attend school here? 

In one focus group, a parent told the group leader he wanted a mixed-gender middle school. Right now, many students in Northeast Austin are zoned to attend the single-sex schools there. 
Last year, Austin ISD turned two under-performing middle schools in the neighborhood into single-sex schools. Windsor Park resident Melanie Haupt says she wants a sixth through twelfth grade school in Mueller. She doesn’t like the public school options in the neighborhood for those grades.

“Middle school is a huge, huge deal for AISD," Haupt says. "They do need to address the middle school situation.”

If parents don’t like their neighborhood middle school, their children can apply to a few magnet or academy schools across the city, but Haupt doesn’t like that option either.

“It puts undue pressure on these children, on their parents, and there are bars to access for kids whose parents can't help them with their application for whatever reason," she says. "We can’t all send our kids to Kealing Magnet and Lamar, and our options are pretty slim.”

Traditionally, new schools are built when there is overcrowding, but the two single-sex middle schools are both under-enrolled. Suzanna Caballero lives in Mueller and is on the Mueller school committee.

“It’s kind of scary to say you want to build another middle school facility when that’s our lowest attendance, but there’s a way to make that work on this campus with some of the many great ideas we’ve had here. So, maybe, that’s the solution," she says.

Residents were asked to consider a multi-use campus at Mueller with more than just a school. It could also include a health clinic, adult learning center or community meeting space. The Austin School Board will ultimately decide what to do with the land in Mueller. They’re expected to make a decision by the end of the school year.

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