AISD Board Approves District’s Largest Bond Package Ever: Seeking Equity – News

AISD Administrator Kevin Foster, who feared the tie would prioritize schools with wealthier students, said the final proposal was “absolutely responsive” to his concerns. (screenshot via AISD)

Last Thursday, August 11, the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the largest bond package in district history – $2.44 billion equity-focused critical infrastructure improvements that will result in a 1 cent property tax increase if approved by voters in the November 8 election.

At the August 9 board meeting, some trustees were concerned that suggestions from the AISD administration to change the originally proposed bond of $2.25 billion might be unfair. The Bond Steering Committee prioritized what they called “designed fairness” and proposed to modernize the black and Hispanic majority Northeast and LBJ Early College High Schools with at least $115 million each, but the AISD administration has suggested reducing them to $60 million each. District 3 Administrator Kevin Foster feared it would take money “from black and brown schools to white schools” to fund improvements like a fine arts space at the predominantly white Austin High. Two days later, during the voting session, the steering committee added an additional $189 million to the proposal, which returned the original amount of funding for Northeast and LBJ while preserving additional funds for schools such as austin high and Bear Creek Elementary School. Foster gave “strong” support and said the new package “absolutely delivers on the conversations and hard work of the past 48 hours…I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen such an effort for fairness where the majority of our funds go towards Title I schools.”

The revised plan includes $2.18 billion for campus improvements, including phased upgrades to five colleges, with $157 million for burnet medium and $251.5 million for Travis High. Security was named a top priority, with $10 million for district-wide improvements including improved security locks and fencing; $75.5 million for technology upgrades and equipment; and $25.7 million for bus upgrades, including a commitment to electric buses as federal government funds become available. It includes commitments to green infrastructure standards for buildings, worker protections and $13 million for the Clifton Center, a vocational and technical school. Several improvements to sports facilities in turf and lighting include $25 million to Nelson Field.

The vote on the equity-focused bond package took place four days before the Texas Education Agency published its ratings for the school district and each campus. While the entire district received a B, 10 campuses, including Mendez College, did not receive the passing grade. Superintendent Anthony Mays said $250 million in the bond would help address “critical deficiencies” at those campuses, such as poor air conditioning, the Statesman reported.

Although it is the largest AISD bond ever created, the proposed new property tax rate is actually the lowest AISD will have in eight years if approved, the tax officer said. operations. Matias Segura. Several council members have expressed hope that bond money covering infrastructure improvements will leave more room in the budget for teacher salary increases – although the final bond package itself will not include not the affordable teacher housing plans discussed earlier. All directors expressed their strong support for the whole. District Administrator 1 The Tisha Andersonwho had raised similar concerns with Foster about the first version, said of the final version, “I’ve never seen AISD offer such an equity-focused bond.”

Ten AISD schools were listed as “unrated” in recently released Texas Education Agency assessments – a label used this year instead of a D or F for schools that received an overall rating below 70.







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