AISD superintendent responds to election results


by HEATHER KOVAR / KVUE News and photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

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Posted on May 12, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Updated Monday, May 13 at 11:59 AM

AUSTIN -- The Austin Independent School District asked voters for $892 million, the largest bond proposal in its history.

Only two of the four propositions passed, and Superintendent  Dr. Meria Carstarphen is thankful for the $490 million approved.

"It was such a generous, a generous commitment from the taxpayers," Carstarphen said.

The superintendent says they know Austinites want to support schools, but they have a limit and had to be selective.

"They said they want to support Props 1 and 3, which we are very excited about because this gives us a lot of opportunity to work in technology. It gives us an opportunity to fix a lot of facility conditions, make some improvements in our buildings and we get to do that across every school in the district," she said. 

While this was the first time since 1989 an entire AISD school district bond hasn't passed, the amount that did is close to what was approved in years past; $519 million in 2004 and  $343 million in 2008.

Don Zimmerman is the founder of the the Travis County Taxpayers Union. He says he's thanking voters for not passing them, saying enough is enough.

"East Austin residents said, hey, you told us in 2004 , 2008, you were going to fix these maintenance problems. We passed the bonds, we spent all this money and we still have problems," Zimmerman said.

He says AISD needs better management before they're given more money.

Taxpayer Robin Rather agrees, saying there was a weak message.

"There was no way to say if we pass these bonds, will each school do better, or will we have uniformly excellent schools? Right now there is a lot of disparity between one school to the other, one neighborhood to the other," said Rather. 

If all bonds had passed, property taxes would have increased about $70 a year on a $200,000 home.

The way it stands, with Props 1 and 3 passing, $38.40 a year will be added to the property tax bill of a home of the same value.