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AISD Board To Vote On Spending Leftover Bond Money

Plans for spending some $16 million in "contingency funds" will be discussed by the AISD board tonight.
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News
Plans for spending some $16 million in "contingency funds" will be discussed by the AISD board tonight.

The Austin ISD board will vote tonight on whether to spend $16 million left over from the 2008 bond package. But at least one item on the plan dealing with an in-district charter school is likely face some opposition.

Back in 2008, Austin voters approved  $345 million in spending for the school district. Then the recession hit. Construction prices dropped. And AISD wound up saving a bunch of money.

Now, the school district wants to spend $16 million of the $19 million in left over “bond contingency funds.”  The school district’s lawyers say that’s okay as long as it fits with the original intention of the bond.

Some of the money would pay for dozens of critical renovations at schools across town, like replacing an elevator at Anderson High School, repairing the heating and cooling system, and fixing waste pipes under the kitchen at Eastside Memorial High School.

AISD board president Mark Williams says more than $4.1 million of the contingency funds would pay for this plan, already adopted by the board, to ease overcrowding at north central elementary schools.

“We’re trying to deal with [overcrowding] as best we can,” Williams said. “These are interim solutions, and it’s an expensive proposition but yet it’s less expensive than building a new school would be.”

As you can see in this board document, money would also be set aside to pay for other facilities recommendations: overhauling the district’s disciplinary program, creating an in-district charter school program targeting high school dropouts, and establishing an in-district college prep charter school program in East Austin.

The latter is sure to face opposition at tonight’s public hearing. That $430,000 item would pay to add kindergarten classrooms to Allen Elementary and relocate an international school at Eastside Memorial High. Board member Robert Schneider says he’s “diametrically opposed” to it.

“You’re taking an existing functioning elementary school and trying to upgrade it to be an existing functional elementary school,” Schneider said.

A group organizing a boycott of the in-district charter school program says it will be at tonight’s public hearing before board members are scheduled to take their vote.

The public hearing starts at 6:10 p.m. and lasts an hour. It will be followed by a board discussion and vote. You can watch the entire meeting online.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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