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Board Briefs: Work Session (Feb. 11)

Historic Property Tax Exemption Program Review

Historically, AISD has granted certain historical landmark properties partial exemption from taxation.  In August 2005, the AISD Board of Trustees modified the program to tighten the exemptions to mirror the City of Austin’s 2004 program modifications.

Effective for tax year 2006, AISD’s program for owner-occupied houses provides for a partial exemption of 50 percent of the structure and 25 percent of the land with a cap of $2,000 or 50 percent of the district levy, whichever is greater.  The program further provides for a partial exemption of 25 percent of the structure and 12.5 percent of the land on income-producing properties. There is no exemption cap on income-producing properties.

The administration recommended the board approve the exemption for the 2013 tax year, but only on the condition that the district not be required to manage the system separately from the City of Austin. The cost of establishing and maintaining such a system would far exceed the approximately $87,000 in revenue that the program generates for the district annually.

This item is scheduled for board action at the Feb. 25 Regular Board Meeting.

Finalize Proposed Scope, Size, and Tax for a Proposed May 2013 Bond Program

The Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, or CBAC, presented a revised proposal for a preliminary scope of work for a proposed May 2013 AISD bond program.

The proposed bond program would total $898,395,000. To fund this bond program, the district would need to increase its tax for Interest and Sinking, or I&S, by 3.5 cents per $100 of valuation. For homeowners, this would translate into approximately $70 per year, or $5.83 per month, for a property valued at $200,000. The impact to Austin businesses’ property taxes would be approximately $35 per $100,000 of taxable value. AISD would still have the second lowest tax rate among Austin area school districts. 

This item is scheduled for board action at the Feb. 25 Regular Board Meeting.

Discussion of Order Calling Proposed 2013 Bond Election

Under state law, the AISD Board of Trustees has the authority to call a special election to obtain authorization from Austin ISD voters to issue tax bonds to finance certain improvements in the district. The Order Calling Bond Election proposes a bond election on May 11, 2013, the next available uniform election date authorized by the Texas legislature. The proposed order sets forth the various requirements to call the election, including the language for the bond propositions and the language that will appear on the ballot. Additional action will be required by the board at future meetings to finalize the details for the conduct of the election when these details are finalized by the county.

This item is scheduled for board action at the Feb. 25 Regular Board Meeting.

Adequate Yearly Progress: Special Education

Under the accountability provisions in the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, all public school campuses, school districts, and the state are evaluated for Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP.  Districts, campuses and the state are required to meet AYP criteria on three measures: reading/language arts, mathematics, and either graduation rate (for high schools and districts) or attendance rate (for elementary and middle/junior high schools). Performance standards have continued to increase rapidly each year toward the target of 100 percent proficiency in 2014, which is next year.

As of Dec. 24, 33 states and the District of Columbia have been granted waivers from the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Last year, TEA announced its intent to submit waiver requests to the U.S. Department of Education of certain provisions, including waivers to sections on AYP calculations and performance targets. Among them, are waivers to allow Texas to use its own testing standards and accountability rating system. The status of the waiver request is still pending.

Pauline Dow, the district’s chief academic officer, provided an overview of the district’s AYP status and actions the district is taking to address areas of concern. She also highlighted AYP information about AISD’s special education population. For example, as a result of a federal cap, scores of more than 1,000 special education students who passed a modified TAKS test were counted as “artificial failers."

Update and Follow-Up on the Initial Formulation of a Plan Regarding the Future of Eastside Memorial High School and the Eastside Memorial High School Vertical Team, Including the Termination of the Agreement Between AISD and IDEA Public Schools.

Trustees continued to discuss the formulation of a plan and alternatives related to the Eastside Memorial High School vertical team following the board action Dec. 17 to terminate the agreement between AISD and IDEA Public Schools. The superintendent provided an overview of factors that need to be taken into account in the formulation of a plan, and reported on community feedback from a meeting at Eastside Memorial Feb. 9.