Voters in May will decide whether to approve $892 million for upgrades to Austin ISD facilities and new schools following a vote Feb. 25 by the AISD board of trustees.
The board unanimously approved the order calling for the bond election and saved the date for May 11, the next available uniform election date authorized by the Texas Legislature.
The approved bond aims to provide funding for improvements in categories including technology, building infrastructure, academic initiatives, fine arts, athletics and relief from overcrowding.
During citizens communication, many attendees said they supported the bond and would advocate for it in the community. Parent Kim Barnes asked the board to give voters the chance to show their support for AISD facilities in a May election.
“I fear that if all our schools don't have adequate facilities, parents won't choose to send their kids to AISD,” she said.
Representatives from McCallum High School attended with colorful signs thanking the board for its addition of a dedicated dance studio to the bond package following many requests for the studio from students, staff and parents at the school.
What's in the bond
The AISD bond on the May ballot will include the four propositions developed by the district's Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee:
$140,566,000 for health, environment, safety, security, equipment and technology
- Science programs
- Technology systems and equipment
- Promotion of energy conservation and efficiency
- Cafeteria and food service facilities
- District maintenance and facilities services
- Purchasing new school buses
$233,950,000 for safety and security, and relief from overcrowding
- Three new elementary schools
- Promotion of safety and security
- Expansion, renovation and addition of classrooms, as well as fine arts and physical education and athletics facilities
- Purchase of necessary sites for school buildings
$349,165,000 for academic and building infrastructure renovations and repairs
- Repair, improve and replace facility systems throughout the district including roofing, plumbing, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electric and flooring systems
- Rehabilitation, renovation and improvement of libraries
- Traffic safety improvements
$168,564,000 for academic initiatives, fine arts and athletics
- Career and technology education and development
- Fine arts
- Physical education and athletics
- Special education
- Ridgeview Campus (the former Anderson High School campus) for a school for young men, and purchase of school buses
Board President Vincent Torres thanked members of the CBAC and the community for their input in the bond process.
"This [feedback] is so valuable to us to make sure that we're grounded in making sure we're doing the right thing for students in this district," Torres said.
Trustee Robert Schneider said he voted for the bond to enable voters to have the opportunity to decide for themselves what to support, but he also said that with the nearly $900 million in the bond, the district could “replace every school in the district.” He said he wants to have a detailed discussion with board members about the way it funds its facilities.
“Where I think we need to get away from is continually relying on bonds to do basic facility maintenance,” he said.
The board voted down two alternate bond orders—one with five propositions and one with six.
Trustee Ann Teich proposed five, separating out only the school for young men, because she said community feedback indicates that voters who do not like the school for young men concept might not vote for a bond that includes funding to establish a facility for it.
She added that the board had already approved the school, so the question was how funding for the project could be incorporated into the bond program.
Schneider proposed separating the bond into six propositions with one for fine arts, one for athletics and one for the school for young men, but that motion did not receive a second.
Additional information about the May AISD bond is available at www.austinisd.org.