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Oct. 8, 2012 Board Work Session

Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee—Progress Report

The Board of Trustees discussed the CBAC Progress Report, presented by CBAC tri-chairs Ramon de Jesus, Albert Hawkins and Carolyn Merritt. The chairs provided an update on the committee’s efforts to develop a preliminary scope of work for the next proposed bond program.

The CBAC delivered its first progress report to the board at its Aug. 13 Work Session.

Preliminary Scenarios for the Development of the Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations: Rosedale School and Clifton Career Development School Renovations, Fine Arts Program and Facility Improvements, and Secondary Athletic Program and Facility Improvements

The board considered three potential AAFRs, which the administration recommended to be referred to the CBAC for possible inclusion in the scope of work for the next bond program:

  1. Rosedale School and Clifton Career Development School renovations—determined by achievement test data and facility support needs;
  2. Fine arts program and facility improvements based on the Kennedy Center's fine arts study results; and
  3. Secondary athletic program and facility improvements based on program assessment results.

Rosedale-Clifton AAFR

This AAFR would finance upgrades to the Rosedale School, which serves students with significant cognitive and/or medical disabilities, and the Clifton Career Development School, which provides students with disabilities quality instruction in the areas of career and technical education.

This AAFR includes four scenarios. Each scenario involving Rosedale includes basic safety renovations to improve access for the mobility-impaired, including the installation of a ceiling hoist system and the replacement of other systems that have deteriorated.

Scenario 1 would include only these renovations. In Scenario 2, six new classrooms also would be constructed to address inadequacy of space for existing programs. The estimated cost for these renovations and new construction would be $8.2 million. 

In Scenario 3, only the existing Clifton school would be renovated at an estimated cost of $2.1 million. The fourth scenario would combine the second and third scenarios, at an estimated cost of $10.3 million.

Fine Arts Program AAFR

A recent survey of arts education in Austin, funded by a grant from the Kennedy Center, identified gaps in arts education, especially at the middle school level. This AAFR would combine the resources of the school district, the City of Austin, local artists, business and philanthropic organizations to help AISD schools attain an arts-rich status. As Superintendent Meria Carstarphen explained, research shows that arts-rich schools are associated with increased academic achievement, improved student engagement, and improved college and career readiness while meeting the needs of the whole student. 

AISD’s facilities and planning office and the fine arts department reviewed all AISD campuses to identify critical needs and facility priorities during the next 10 years. Proposed facility improvements under the preliminary AAFR would address safety issues and building expansion needs at secondary schools that have inadequate space due to the high participation in their fine arts programs, including additions to Bailey, Bowie, Kealing, and Murchison and additions and renovations to Ann Richards.

The first scenario under this AAFR would implement the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child Creative Learning Initiative district-wide by vertical team during a 10-year period. The estimated cost would be $2.2 million annually and $22 million for all 10 years.

The second scenario would address the most critical fine arts facilities needs, such as securing and updating rigging systems in district auditoriums and making additions to middle and high schools. The estimated cost would be $31 million.

The third scenario would combine the first two scenarios at an estimated cost of $53.2 million.

Greg Goodman, AISD director of fine arts, was available to provide information to the board.

Athletic Program and Facility Improvements AAFR

As overall participation in AISD athletics programming increases each year, campus athletic facilities have been unable to keep pace with student enrollment growth. An AISD study shows that students who participate in athletics have higher rates of attendance and graduation, better academic performance and are more likely to advance to the next grade and stay out of trouble.

The preliminary AAFR is centered on three broad strategies:

  • Retaining and recruiting high quality coaches;  
  • Increasing access to athletic classes and redesigning middle school and high school schedules to incorporate an athletics period and support athletic vertical team alignment; and
  • Improving athletic facilities by implementing district-wide renovation upgrades and major repairs of existing campus and district athletic facilities.

There are three scenarios for this AAFR, ranging in cost from $82 million to $179 million. All three scenarios contain the elements in the basic $82 million estimate, which would pay for:

  • improvements to practice and competition fields and gymnasiums;
  • the replacement of artificial turf at Burger Stadium, Nelson Field and House Park;
  • stipends and flexible duty days for coaches;
  • mandatory middle school athletic periods; and
  • the maintenance of buildings and grounds equipment. 

Scenario 2 would add facility improvements, such as the installation of synthetic turf at 11 high school practice fields, construction of on-campus laundry rooms for high schools, renovation of high school training rooms and drainage improvements at central athletic facilities. The total cost would be $113 million.

Scenario 3 includes other proposed facility improvements, including constructing:

  • a district-wide natatorium;
  • wrestling gymnasiums at high schools; and
  • concession stands and outdoor restrooms at high schools.

Scenario 3 also includes renovation and construction of additional tennis courts at high schools, at a total cost of $179.1 million.

A planning team made up of staff members, families, and community members worked together to develop the scenarios for each preliminary AAFR.

Superintendent Carstarphen requested additional direction from the board on the following:

  • Rosedale-Clifton AAFR:  Which scenario is the board likely to consider for action, and should the administration continue considering all the scenarios?
  • Fine Arts Program AAFR: What does the board think about moving from an arts-involved to an arts-rich learning environment across the district, and what is the board’s guidance for future investment in fine arts facilities improvements? 
  • Athletic Program and Facility Improvements AAFR: Which level of improvement for athletic programming and facilities best represents the public interest?

Tommy Cox, AISD director of athletics, was available to provide information to the board.

The board is scheduled to take action on these preliminary AAFRs at its Dec. 17 Regular Board meeting.

School Improvement Plans for Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus, LBJ High School and Bedichek, Burnet, Garcia, Lamar, Mendez and Pearce Middle Schools

Chief Schools Officer Paul Cruz presented for board discussion draft school improvement plans required under state accountability rules for certain AISD campuses. These plans are scheduled for board action at the Oct. 22 Regular Board meeting before they can be submitted to the Texas Education Agency.

The following campuses must submit improvement plans after receiving a state accountability rating of “Academically Unacceptable” in 2011: Burnet, Garcia, Lamar, Mendez and Pearce middle schools and LBJ High School. Although Eastside Memorial improved from “Academically Unacceptable” in 2010 to “Academically Acceptable” in 2011, it is still required to submit an improvement plan as a first-year “Academically Acceptable” school.

Discussion of FY 2014 Budget Development Calendar

Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley-Abram presented a calendar for key events in the budget process for board review and discussion. The purpose of the calendar is to standardize the timing of decision-making benchmarks surrounding the development process for the district’s 2013-14 budget. The board is scheduled to take action on the budget development calendar at its Oct. 22 Regular meeting.