Tuesday, November 7, 2017

7 Reasons for YOU to VOTE AGAINST the Austin ISD tax increase!!!

"The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the Lord."
Proverbs 21:31
  • From TPPF:

    In the bond summary, AISD indicates urgently needed repairs in schools across the district. Such repairs include roofing system replacement, HVAC improvements, plumbing and drainage improvements, and electrical system improvements. These are all items that could justify a bond asking for taxpayer money.

    However, funding to correct these “Critical Facility Deficiencies” makes up only 19% of the entire bond package. The district is not simply asking for the $196,116,000 needed to make these critical improvements.

    The bond also includes items such as $6 million to improve the press box, concessions, and restrooms at House Park; $23 million for new athletic spaces (and some academic renovation) at a single school (Austin High—the new elementary schools in the bond cost $31-36 million each); and $5 million for “undesignated furniture improvements.” While such upgrades may be desirable, the wisdom of going into hundreds of millions of additional debt to finance these kinds of improvement is debatable.


    There are schools that are overcrowded, such as Maplewood Elementary, operating at 141% capacity. Inversely, only one mile away is Campbell Elementary, which is severely under-enrolled, operating at only 37% capacity. This is a trend found at elementary, middle, and high school levels across the district. The issue facing the district is not a lack of seats. In fact, there are 1,456 elementary, 910 middle, and 2,479 high school seats currently vacant. If the school board were to redraw attendance boundaries in an effort to distribute students more equitably, it could potentially save taxpayers up to $600 million by avoiding the construction of new facilities.


    AISD claims that the “$1.05 billion bond would not raise property tax rates.” Their carefully selected wording is correct, but it attempts to obscure the truth. Former Travis County Judge Bill Aleshire recently noted, “No one in their right mind should believe AISD can borrow $1 billion plus interest and not have a property tax increase as a result." In Austin’s current property market, stable property tax rates mean steady increases in property tax bills year over year. In fact, the AISD website confirms that they are assuming “anticipated increases in taxable assessed values,” in their bond planning and taxpayers should not expect their bills to remain the same.


    As these kinds of tax increases occur not only within the school district but also in city, county, and special district taxes, it is no wonder that Austinites can no longer afford their homes.

    In sum, the number that most impacts taxpayer’s pocketbooks is not the tax rate, but the tax bill. Rising tax bills, however, are a poor slogan; they do not soothe taxpayers into voting for a bond trying to appear revenue-neutral.

    Furthermore, AISD cannot guarantee that tax rates will not be raised. This bond is a proposal, not a contract. The ballot language states that “the board [shall] be authorized to levy, pledge, assess and collect, annual ad valorem taxes on all taxable property in the district sufficient, without limit as to rate or amount, to pay the principal of and interest on the bonds, and the costs of any credit agreements.” Even if the bond passes, Austin ISD still has the option to raise tax rates in the future. AISD does not have to keep any of its campaign promises, but taxpayers are beholden to the $1.05 billion in debt.
  • From Forbes Magazine:

    "The Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Central Texas serves a city that has consistently been one of America's fastest growing large metropolitan areas for a decade. Yet, in spite of being in the heart of this thriving city that has grown by more than 100,000 people in the past five years, AISD has lost 5 percent of its student enrollment since 2012, shrinking by some 4,200 children.

    AISD has taken steps recently to reverse declining student enrollment. One would hope the effort would focus on improving academic excellence, increasing educational options and opportunity, and stretching taxpayer dollars to make the budget leaner and more efficient.

    Sadly, no. Instead, officials felt they just needed better PR.

    So to stem the loss of students, AISD spent $850,000 on advertising and public relations consultants, in addition to the $1.5 million on in-house communications staff.
  • From Texas Monitor:

    Poor planning and a hurried decision by Austin Independent School District Superintendent Paul Cruz has potentially saddled taxpayers with an additional $30 million in bond payments, records obtained by The Texas Monitor show.

    District emails show that school officials had options of rehabbing Austin’s T.A. Brown Elementary, which Cruz shuttered in November 2016.

    Those options for fixing Brown, which opened in 1957, were not explored until after the superintendent declared the building closed forever.

    And now it’s too late for any fixes. Demolition of the building has already begun.

    The trouble centered on cracks in a crawl space at Brown, indicating wear and tear had given way to a serious weakening of floors throughout the building.

    In the days after the building was declared closed forever, a team of consultants hammered out possible fixes for the defects and came forward with possibly cheaper remedies at Brown.

    Officials now say Brown Elementary was a neighborhood school rife with engineering problems. Decrepit flooring showed structural defects that endangered anyone in the school, they said.
  • From Save East Austin Schools:

    A group of district volunteers, parents and Latino community leaders fighting against possible closures of East Austin schools are creating a political action committee and threatening to oppose the Austin school district’s $1.1 billion bond package that will go before voters in November.

    About 30 plan to rally at 6:30 p.m. tonight outside of the Austin school board meeting at district headquarters, 1111 W. 6th St. and announce the formation of Save East Austin Schools political action committee.

    Group members have called on the school board to make changes to a 25-year comprehensive facilities master plan, as well as the bond projects. The concerns also include displacing Eastside Memorial High School from its current facility to a $70 million facility and moving the nationally-ranked Liberal Arts and Science Academy to the current Eastside campus.


    Group organizers said current Eastside students won’t benefit from the move and new facility, which is years away, and want LASA students to co-locate with Eastside students on the current campus. They also said more resources in the facilities master plan and the bond need to be allocated to the district’s east side campuses, which historically have been underserved.
  • Austin ISD is the largest landowner in Central Texas.  Late last year, Austin ISD formally proposed selling a number of their properties, including multiple prime lots downtown.  This would be both a win for taxpayers AND it would help with housing supply.

    Passing this bond can only slow that process down.

    Also, in the event this bond does fail, reviving this proposal should be the next step.
  • From KXAN last April:

    The Austin Independent School District chief of police says his department mishandled a possible sexual assault case of a Boone Elementary School Pre-K student.

    The case was first opened on Feb. 7 when attorney Paul Guinn says the parents of the 4-year-old girl noticed traumatic injuries on her body after she came home from school.

    “Something very bad seems to have happened to this young girl and we are without answers,” said Guinn.

    According to Guinn, the child’s mother dressed her daughter and took her to school that morning at 8 a.m. and then picked her up from school three hours later.

    Once they got home, the mother says she heard the child screaming while using the bathroom, and found blood and horrible bruising on her body.

    “The daughter’s father came home from work and took a look and said ‘we need to go to the hospital with this — this looks very serious,'” said Guinn.

    He says a trauma surgeon at Dell Children’s Medical Center had to operate on the lacerations, and diagnosed the injuries as sexual assault by bodily force.

    The attorney says AISD police were at the hospital and met with her parents, the doctors and interviewed the student. The girl’s teacher was placed on administrative leave. Two weeks later, on Feb. 22, AISD police decided to close the case and said the allegations were unfounded.

    It turns out, the detective never got a copy of the child’s medical records. “Frankly, I am mystified at how this diagnosis of a sexual assault was missed by the AISD PD,” said Guinn.
Bottom Line: If we had unlimited time, we could list 25 reasons why this monstrosity deserves to go down in flames; whatever your reason, get out and VOTE AGAINST the Austin ISD bond proposal.

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