AISD narrowing items for potential bond, $3.9 billion in projects identified

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the heels of three major school bond elections in Central Texas, the Austin Independent School District is getting closer to deciding what could be on the ballot for voters in November.

The committee that’s been working for months to assess the condition of AISD campuses and look at future needs for schools will present a preview of their preliminary bond proposal to the school board Monday night.

The Facilities and Bond Planning Advisory Committee is trying to narrow down $3.9 billion in identified projects to a number that is less than $1 billion. Right now, they are focusing on Scenario A with a goal of reducing the bond to $900 million.

A 16-page list prioritizes projects from zero to 99. Upgrades to technology are the biggest ticket items. The most expensive project at the top of the list is $34 million which would cover $400 Chromebook laptops for every student districtwide. AISD’s Technology Officer for Teacher and Learning, Kevin Schwartz, tells KXAN the district is still assessing the types of technology that best fit each grade level, and the how computers would be distributed for first, second and third graders.

The next largest expense is updating all network equipment across the district which would cost $26.5 million, and another $7 million is slated to replace all personal computers for teachers.

Transportation is the third largest expense at the top of the list. The district needs about $22 million to replace 190 school buses that are on a 14-year replacement plan. Another $3.4 million is slated for 30 new school buses “for 5 years worth of increases based on projected needs.”

When it comes to facilities, a $40 million Austin High Wellness Center is included as a top priority. According the the city of Austin, it is a very preliminary joint venture between the school district, the city of Austin and the YMCA. AISD says $20 million would come from a potential bond and another $20 million could come from the city of Austin. The Austin Parks and Recreation Department told KXAN they have not committed to a dollar amount, and “a lot of details have not been worked out.”

“Academic reinventions” to the following fine arts programs are also at the top of the list:

  • Blackshear Elementary School
  • Covington Middle School
  • Lamar Middle School
  • McCallum High School

Two career launch programs at LBJ and Reagan High Schools are included as well, and a pre-k to pre-med “academic reinvention” is slated for Oak Springs Elementary.

Over the next few weeks, people living in Austin ISD are encouraged to attend a meeting to give their input on priorities for potential bond projects. Here are the scheduled meetings:

  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 – Austin High School (6-8 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, May 17, 2017 –Millennium Youth Complex Recreation Center (12-2 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, May 17, 2017 – Bowie High School (6-8 p.m.)
  • Thursday, May 18, 2017 – Reagan High School (6-8 p.m.)
  • Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Travis High School (9-11 a.m.)
  • Saturday, May 20, 2017 – Austin High School (10-2 p.m.) *Outreach Event

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