The Austin Chronicle

Considering the Props

By Rachel Proctor May, August 27, 2004, News

AISD's $519.5 million bond package is divided into six separate propositions, provided in typically incomprehensible ballot language. Here's some plain English.

Proposition 1: $184 million ($183,598,064; tax rate: 1.54 cents)
This is the major school-building proposition. It will fund the construction of six new elementary schools (northeast, south-central, southwest, southeast, and two undesignated) and one new middle school in the northeast. It will also relieve overcrowding through 88 classroom additions at 10 schools, mostly on the edge of town. Finally, it will fund land acquisition for two new middle schools (one southeast, one southwest) and a future elementary school of undesignated location. Opposition centers around the southwest schools and the schools whose locations are undesignated.

Proposition 2: $201 million ($201,103,971; tax rate: 1.69 cents)
This one funds renovations throughout the district. This means basic maintenance, such as roofs and plumbing, but also functional equity issues such as upgrading science labs in many central city schools. Every school but the very newest gets something under this package, but the lion's share goes to the oldest schools, many of which simply need more renovations to get them up to snuff.

Proposition 3: $54 million ($53,899,309; tax rate: 0.45 cents)
This includes $21 million for safety upgrades to every campus – basic safety measures such as outdoor lighting, as well as more controversial ones like security cameras and card access systems. It also will buy a fleet of low-emission buses and pay for hazardous-material abatement.

Proposition 4: $13 million ($12,830,510; tax rate: 0.11 cents)
This proposition will upgrade the AISD's three major sports facilities (Burger Center, Nelson Field, House Park), improving electrical systems, irrigation systems, HVAC systems, and so on, and putting in artificial turf in place of the natural grass. It will also provide a new play slab for every AISD elementary school.

Proposition 5: $45 million ($44,599,762; tax rate: 0.37 cents)
Nine million dollars of this proposition will fund the land acquisition and partial building of a performing arts center to serve students throughout the district. The remainder, $36 million, will build a middle school in the southwest to relieve overcrowding at Paredes and Bailey middle schools. (This is the same school for which Proposition 1 would fund the land acquisition.)

Proposition 6: $23 million ($23,495,000, tax rate: 0.49 cents)
The final proposition will pay to refinance AISD's short-term contractual debt, which will result in more available cash for the district.

Total: $519,526,616; tax rate: 4.65 cents

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