The Austin Chronicle

Naked City

Easy as 1-2-3

By Kevin Fullerton, May 12, 2000, News

Recent tax increases and financial disorder in the Austin Independent School District failed to trigger an avalanche of conservative votes in the elections for the school district's board of trustees. Johna Edwards and Ingrid Taylor, who won in Districts 3 and 5, respectively, easily bested anti-tax opponents who promised to force the district into a tighter fiscal straightjacket. Edwards, a preschool teacher and former president of the Austin Council of PTAs, took 61% of the vote to top real-estate broker Tom Arbuckle, while Taylor walloped developer Albert Stowell by better than 3 to 1. District 2 incumbent Rudy Montoya also prevailed easily over insurance policy analyst Wanda Rogers by a wide margin.

Edwards, who touted the importance of citizens committees during her campaign, said she looked forward to reviewing the budget oversight committee's recommendations for streamlining AISD but wasn't inclined to support privatizing support services, as suggested by a recent state comptroller's audit. Taylor, an educational consultant, said she wasn't ready to commit to that road, either.

Rogers, whose son recently entered Harris Elementary, said she was satisfied that her campaign had at least prompted new commitments from Montoya. She added that she plans to appear on the ballot in future school board elections.

Voters also approved two referenda giving the district a choice in how it distributes property tax revenues to poorer districts next year under the state's share-the-wealth law. School officials had feared that the ballot language on the items, which made it appear that the district was willingly shipping money off to other schools, might cause voters to turn them down, prompting the state education commissioner to take property away from AISD. Early voting results were a bit close for comfort, but both measures eventually passed easily.

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