Nov 7, 2022 - News

Austin school bond proposition in trouble

The interior of the Delco Center, in 2017 as evacuees from Houston flooding bed down.

East Austin's Delco Center, pictured here in 2017, when it hosted Houston-area hurricane flooding evacuees, is among the sites targeted for revamping by a school district bond proposition. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

At least one plank of an Austin school district modernization effort that's before voters tomorrow could be in trouble.

Driving the news: Internal polling this fall by the Committee for Austin's Children, a political action committee that is advocating for the bond package, showed that support for a bond proposal for improvements to key stadiums and activity centers is under 50%, Axios Austin has learned.

Why it matters: District officials say long-term maintenance savings from facility improvements will lead to better teacher pay.

  • Of note: Schools cannot directly use bonds for teacher salaries.

Details: AISD's Proposition C would raise $47.4 million for improvements to Nelson Field, Burger Athletic Complex, Delco Activity Center and Noack Sports Complex.

  • It's part of a $2.44 billion dollar bond package — the largest in the district's history.
  • The funding would pay for security upgrades, air-conditioned buses, cafeteria improvements, synthetic turf on practice fields and technology modernizations — among many other things.

What they're saying: "It's a matter of repairing and replacing a lot of these facilities that may be unsanitary or in disrepair, especially given our environmental commitment to more efficient buildings," Austin school district board president and PAC supporter Geronimo Rodriguez tells Axios.

Between the lines: In 2019, the Legislature, keen to ratchet down property tax increases, required separate ballot propositions if school districts ask for money to construct or improve major stadiums or performing arts facilities, or to pay for technology improvements.

  • Lawmakers also mandated that bond election ballots include the language — in caps — "THIS IS A PROPERTY TAX INCREASE."

Writing on the wall: Statewide, 47% of 110 district-led ballot propositions passed in November 2021, per the Dallas Morning News.

  • In the last couple years, school district voters in Allen,Fort Worth, Klein, greater Houston and Willis, have split their votes, supporting school and technology improvements but voting down athletic facility upgrades.

Plus: In fast-growing Leander, voters narrowly rejected a $722 million proposition for new schools.

Worth noting: If the full AISD package passes, a homeowner with a $600,000 property would see taxes increase by $60 a year, per the American-Statesman.

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