The Austin ISD board of trustees talked about improving technology use, athletic facilities and teachers' work environment during its Oct. 8 work session discussion of potential priorities for a bond proposal.
The Citizens Bond Advisory Committee came up with a timeline for a proposed May 2013 bond election. The CBAC has received campus plans from every school in the district and is conducting an in-depth review of facility infrastructure needs to determine projects to be included in the scope of AISD’s bond proposal, including a few annual academic and facilities recommendations.
“Infrastructure needs exist almost every place in the district,” CBAC Co-chairman Albert Hawkins said. “The level of dollar impact we could have on the taxpayers will have to be taken into account.”
The CBAC will further analyze the needs of schools in the district and develop a recommended scope of work, which it will present to the board at the Nov. 12 work session.
Trustee Robert Schneider noted community engagement is crucial when looking at bond programs and that as much information as possible should be shared with the public. Hearings will be held Oct. 23 at Reagan High School and Oct. 25 at Crockett High School to listen to feedback from the community.
A list of bond projects is not yet available, but the board discussed many options.
Trustees Vincent Torres and Cheryl Bradley noted 21st-century learning should be a focus, including getting technology into the hands of both students and teachers.
The district's top technology priorities now are basic systemic upgrades and improvements, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said, noting she thinks it would behoove the district to research and evaluate further technology use.
“We don't have a great recycling system for how we get the newer, faster technology into the hands of teachers,” she said.
Torres suggested improving athletic programs and facilities both at the campus level and districtwide.
Board President Mark Williams said the bond allows the board to make facility improvements that would reward the district's teachers.
“We are asking more and more of our people, and we can't pay them [more],” he said. “What we can potentially affect is the working conditions for our people.”
That should be addressed for the benefit of not only teachers, but also students and parents, he said.
“It's the public's decision whether they're willing to pay the freight to support the facilities that we need,” Williams said.