New Austin HS set to open after winter break

There are many features that Principal Orlando Reyna finds impressive about the newly constructed Austin High School, but the contemporary courtyard is by far one of his favorites.

“It just looks amazing,” Reyna said, smiling at the thought of it. “I anticipate it’s going to be a popular space for us to utilize and for students to congregate.”

After a semester-long delay due to pandemic-related manpower and delivery issues, Austin High School is finally set to open its doors to students on Wednesday, Jan. 6, following their return from winter break.

Students will engage in virtual learning for the first two days back from break — Monday, Jan. 4 and Tuesday, Jan. 5 — to allow faculty and staff time to settle into the new building.

“I think it’s the most appropriate time, given the circumstances of what we’ve been going through and how education has been affected,” Reyna said about the move. “For us, it’s a turn in the right direction. These are the wins students want to see and staff want to experience.”

Austin High School is one of 29 high schools renovated or rebuilt as part of the 2012 Bond Program. The $80.9 million project called for a new 186,000-square-foot facility, as well as work to renovate the existing 84-year-old building.

“Austin High School’s new building is the latest achievement in the historic 2012 Bond Program,” Interim Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan said. “It’s a fantastic building, one that blends the history of the original structure with the cutting-edge technology needed in a modern high school.”

Construction Services Senior Manager Meredith Smith said construction is now 99 percent complete, which allowed for Austin to move into its new facility earlier this week.

The school’s new furniture has also been installed and only a few remaining items are scheduled for delivery over the next few days.

“Soon students won’t have to wait and watch from their nearby temporary campus,” Smith said. “We have almost crossed the finish line to allow students and staff the full benefit of their new school.”

In addition to the preservation of the original historic façade and the existing auditorium, the new facility features a three-story academic wing with bigger and naturally-lit classrooms, labs for welding, robotics, and maritime, and plenty of downtown views.

It also includes new athletic facilities, including two gyms, state-of-the-art locker rooms, and a weight room with mustang detailing. 

With almost all HISD construction projects now complete, Bellaire High School is the only 2012 Bond school remaining under active construction as part of its original scope of work. Soon HISD will boast one of the most modern portfolios of urban high schools in the country.