Julie Cowan [Email address: Jscowan #AT# aol.com - replace #AT# with @ ]

The AISD Board of Trustees has called an election for May 10, to vote on three bond propositions that would benefit children in the Austin school district.  This bond package is intended to be limited in scope:  it addresses overcrowding at those schools in the district at 125%+ capacity, boosts technology for students and teachers, responds to health and safety mandates from outside entities, and supports academic achievement.

For general information on the bond package, please visit www.voteyesforaustinschools.org or www.austinisd.org.

More specifically, several items in the three propositions would benefit children living in the Allandale Neighborhood who attend McCallum High School, Lamar Middle School, or Gullett Elementary. Listed by proposition, they include

Proposition 1:
McCallum – two new science laboratory classrooms, convert one existing classroom into a science laboratory classroom, build a new 500-seat theater.  ($7.6 million estimated cost)

McCallum, Lamar, Gullett – all would receive upgrades to technology hardware and systems such as wireless connections, mobile computer carts, grade book and student information programs, in addition to many other items that would enhance instruction and management.

Proposition 2:
McCallum – construct air-gap at kitchen sinks, modify/add hand wash sinks, install backflow preventers at sinks, install ventilation system in restroom, replace ceiling materials/system, reconfigure/enclose exposed ductwork, replace/install concrete dumpster pads, repair exterior door, install splash guards at sinks, refurbish restrooms, replace HVAC units in math wing, replace windows to courtyard at corridor, replace bleachers, replace remaining old lockers, replace fly system at stage ($2.2 million)

Lamar – install ventilation system in restroom, reconfigure/enclose exposed ductwork, new cafeteria dishwasher ($42,140)

Gullett – modify hand wash sinks, install ventilation system in restroom, new cafeteria dishwasher ($32,094)

McCallum, Lamar, Gullett – all would receive capacitor banks, a new requirement by Austin Energy that would improve and balance power demand.  Low-emission diesel buses and two plug-in hybrid school buses, which would be purchased with Prop 2 funds, might also benefit Gullet, Lamar, or McCallum students, if the buses are put into service on their routes.  Replacement of the district’s cold-storage warehouse would ensure safe and timely food deliveries to all of the district’s school cafeterias.

Proposition 3:
All students from the McCallum vertical team could benefit from a district-wide performing arts center, particularly those students attending the Fine Arts Academy at McCallum.

Additional Notes:  The building program, if accepted by Austin voters, will take place over four years, beginning in May 2008.  A Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee will be appointed by the AISD Board of Trustees to ensure that the bond program is implemented appropriately and that the bond funds are spent properly and only on voter-approved projects.

Homeowners 65-years-old and above will see no tax increase.  Their rates are held constant from the year they turned 65.  For other homeowners, the maximum tax rate increase is 1.7 cents per $100,000 valuation.  For each $100,000 of home value, the tax increase would be $1.41 per month, with a yearly cost of $17.  For example, the yearly cost of a home valued at $200,000 would be $34 or $2.83 per month.

Early voting for the bond package takes place from April 26 – May 6. The early voting site near Allandale is the Ben Hur Shriners Hall, 7811 Rockwood Lane, M – Sat, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Sun, noon – 6 p.m. Election day is May 10.