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Renovations usher in renewed school spirit

Tafolla teacherFor the first time in her career, 7th grade Tafolla Middle School math teacher Andrea Ramirez is walking through the doors of what seems like a brand-new campus. And she wants everyone to know it.

“I would always hear stories about how this used to be called the Harvard of middle schools,” she said.  “When I arrived here four years ago, the building was almost 50 years old.”

The campus has always stood tall and stoic in its west side community, just down the street from Lanier High School. But over the years, the building's age has become visible. Ramirez took note of the small classroom sizes and the many out-of-date features when she arrived on campus several years ago.

But with San Antonio ISD’s Bond 2016, Tafolla and 12 other campuses started the transformation process from venerable old schools to vibrant campuses bursting with pride. In many cases, the Bond 2016 campuses hadn’t received any type of significant renovation in decades. Infrastructure like air conditioning systems frequently failed. They also dealt with falling ceiling tiles, uneven floors, crowded hallway spaces, and small classrooms.  

tafolla hallwayNow, the 135,000 square foot campus – originally built in 1969 – features wider hallways, new windows, updated classrooms, cutting-edge science labs, efficient heating and ventilation systems, and more upgrades are underway. The overall project currently stands at 65% completion with new classrooms finished, newly expanded and bright hallways, and a new canopy outside to protect students and staff from the elements. 

During a recent video call with the non-profit organization SA Rise, Ramirez introduced SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez before he spoke to the group. The organization seeks to fight for educational equity in San Antonio, and applauded Martinez for pushing renovations large and small at SAISD, from the day-to-day capital improvement projects, like painting and minor fixes, to the larger construction plans, like new builds and complete campus overhauls, that are paid for by bonds.

Prior to the renovations, Bianca Alvarado, who teaches 7th and 8th grade science at Tafolla, also spoke of the former classroom sizes, especially the small science labs. The work from Bond 2016 doubled the size of those spaces and now includes state-of-the-art technology and safety stations.

Alvarado says it’s changed the way she teaches.

“With our bigger rooms, our students are able to gather into lab groups and get experiments done in a safe way without having to bump into anyone else,” she said. “It’ll give us the opportunity to do more activities!”

Often, bond projects like the one at Tafolla focus on upgrading science labs and expanding other classrooms to the recommended state guidelines. However, the project scope at Tafolla also includes fine arts, music, and special education spaces, cafeteria upgrades, and library renovations. 

The amount of pride that Ramirez feels is palpable. “I want every school to feel like our school has felt,” she said. “It shouldn’t matter the ZIP code.”

She hopes that feeling will be revived throughout the community once the renovations from Bond 2016 are done. The project is set to be substantially complete by the time students return to class for the fall of 2021.


To find out more about the progress of Bond 2016, go to


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