Late Meeting Leads to Big School Investment
Making a $4.6 billion decision at 3am
The Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees endured a nine-hour meeting Monday night, finally emerging at 3:17am on Tuesday having approved the latest update to the facility master plan on a split vote. After months of work by the volunteer Facility and Bond Planning Advisory Committee, the board adopted updates to the $4.6 billion, 25-year infrastructure investment plan. The evening started on rocky footing: Over the weekend, Trustee Jayme Mathias had circulated a letter sent to school families by the UT Elementary charter school, saying they would be moving into the former Allan Elementary campus in the upcoming school year. Prior to Monday's meeting, UT confirmed there had been discussions with AISD, but nothing more, and the letter had been sent "prematurely." Superintendent Paul Cruz further told trustees "there is no agreement, there is nothing that has been signed, and it still has to come to the board."
That cleared up, Trustees Ted Gordon and Paul Saldaña dropped a stack of last-minute revisions to the FABPAC recommendations. Only four of the 23 amendments (and amendments to amendments) proffered were adopted: speeding up construction for the new Mueller Middle School; fast-tracking rebuilding of the Alternative Learning Center (formerly L.C. Anderson High) as a combination flexible learning space and community center; additional marketing support for underenrolled schools; and factoring in academic achievement in school closure and consolidation decisions. Even after that, the full plan only passed 6-3, with Gordon, Saldaña, and Mathias voting no.