Naked City

AISD Bond-Sked Squabble

With some last-minute squabbling, the AISD board of trustees approved the five-year schedule for implementing projects funded under the $519.5 million bond package voters approved in August. At issue was the schedule of completion of eight new schools; two trustees wanted schools in their parts of town moved to the front of the line. Citing extreme overcrowding at Norman Elementary, District 1 trustee Cheryl Bradley (representing east and northeast Austin) briefly argued that the northeast middle school should be completed before 2007 as planned, before giving up with a frustrated laugh, saying, "I'm not going to keep going with this, because I keep getting the same answer – and I don't like your answer!"

Meanwhile, District 7 trustee Robert Schneider (representing the southwest) moved to table the entire implementation schedule so he could further develop his case that the southwest middle school needs to be finished before 2010 – an effort that included trying to get the administration to release the database used to make the district's demographic reports so he could conduct an independent analysis. That resulted in a tense exchange with Superintendent Pat Forgione, who said it would be "not appropriate" to release the database, to which Schneider responded that "to try to portray this as an unreasonable and unusual request is unreasonable in itself." The implementation schedule finally passed 8-1, but Schneider warned that he would be proven right in the end. "You don't have to convince me, and you don't have to convince the families who live out there, many of whom wonder why we even bother having this discussion," he said ominously. The schedule for school completion is:

Southeast and southwest elementary schools, August 2006;

Northeast and south-central elementary schools and northeast middle school, August 2007;

Two undesignated elementary schools, August 2009;

The southwest middle school and performing arts center, August 2010.

However, the schedule can be adjusted when the district releases annual updates to its demographic data, at which point the squabble will no doubt resume.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin ISD, bond package, Cheryl Bradley, Robert Schneider, Pat Forgione

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