SAN ANTONIO -

An eight-year old building at Japhet Elementary School was recently torn down, sparking concerns among neighbors that tax money is being wasted.

SAISD, however, said the demolition would actually result in lower costs and less disruption for students.

Heavy machinery began tearing into the Pre-K building on campus several weeks ago and an email alerted the Defenders.

The 5,500-square-foot building was built in 2005 at a cost of $1,150,988.77.

The demolition itself tacked on another $19,614.

Neighbor Ronnie Dawson worried that the money spent to build that building went down the drain.

"It just doesn't make a lot of sense when you've got a new facility that they've just built within the last 10 or 15 years," Dawson said.

Even the slab from the Pre-K building is gone now.

SAISD Spokeswoman Leslie Price, however, said the demolition will actually benefit Japhet students and save money in the long run.

"I am sure you can drive by and think, 'Well, gee, I might have done it a different way,'" Price said.

She said the demolition is part of an $18,634,488 renovation and upgrade for Japhet using bond money.

The new school will hold 1,000 students -- instead of the 550 it holds now -- and nearby Steele Elementary will be closed.

She acknowledged, however, that the original plan was to keep the Japhet Pre-K building and tear down the old school to build the new school.

"That's very disruptive and it ends up being expensive because we're going to have to displace the students into portables,” Price said. “Close to 20 portables would be needed for two years. And that's close to a million dollars. We looked at the Pre-K building and we needed to expand actually past that building."

Because of that, and to avoid having two different foundations for the buildings, the decision was made to demolish.

Even with that explanation, some still think it was a big waste of money.

Steele elementary students will begin going to the new-and-improved Japhet in the fall of 2015.

Other renovation highlights include:

  • The new cafeteria and library will be located at the center of the new building and will be surrounded by classrooms and two new wings.

  • New single-story wing to house PK-1st grades.

  • New two-story wing to house 2nd-5th grades.

  • Outdoor courtyard to be built between the two new wings.

  • Newly renovated special education classrooms.

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