Naked City

Expelling Mold From School

Early voting started this week for the Austin Independent School District's "health and safety bond" election, a nearly $50 million package primarily targeted toward cleaning up and heading off that plague du jour, mold infestation, at dozens of Austin schools. Feb. 2 is officially election day, but you can vote earlier at locations across the city (see p.15).

Of the package, 30% -- about $12 million -- will be used for mold remediation at eight campuses; all but one are in South Austin, and all were built in the mid-Eighties. (AISD gingerly suggests that the building boom at the time, coupled with the resultant labor shortage, may have "compromised quality control.") Most of the remaining funds will go toward addressing "water intrusion issues" -- you call them "leaks" -- and improving ventilation systems at campuses that are not yet blighted by mold. A bit more than $2 million will go for ramps and fire alarms that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Thanks to your rising property values, the bonds will not require an increase in the property tax rate, says AISD literature. That's assuming the package's cost estimates are correct; AISD says it gathered the renovation cost data while implementing its $389 million 1996 bond package. Since more than half of the projects in that package ended up overbudget and behind schedule, this may mean AISD won't make the same mistakes twice.

Almost every AISD campus is slated for some project in this bond package. Big-ticket sites include the mold remediations at Boone, Galindo, Kocurek, Palm, Patton, Pleasant Hill, Summitt, and Widen Elementaries -- the Galindo project alone is slated at more than $6 million. Renovations costing $500,000 or more are planned at Cunningham, Govalle, and Oak Hill Elementaries; Bailey, Bedichek, and Murchison Middle Schools and Martin Junior High; and Johnston, LBJ, Reagan (more than $1 million), and Garza Independence High Schools. The complete "scope of work" detailing projects at each school can be downloaded from

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