The Greater Austin Chamber Board of Directors unanimously voted to support the Austin Independent School District’s $1.04 billion bond package for technology, infrastructure, facilities, and improved 21st-century learning standards for students.
The bond proposal, if successful with voters, will authorize the Austin school district to modernize and optimize the use of existing instructional buildings throughout Austin, without increasing its current $0.11 per $100 valuation tax rate for interest and sinking funds through 2030.
The Greater Austin Chamber Board of Directors has supported the bond based on the following criterion:
- Credible Master Facility Plan: The Chamber applauds the Austin ISD Board of Directors, as the region's largest land owner, for adopting its first Master Facility Plan, to prioritize and guide its next 25 years of physical investment.
- Strong review of its facilities: As part of the Facility Plan, the Austin school district facility committee assessed all facilities. They found 39 percent of facilities are rated poor or very poor; 22 percent have an educational suitability score of unsatisfactory or very unsatisfactory; 17 percent were overcrowded; and 27 percent were under-enrolled.
- Conservative financial projections: The Chamber convened a meeting of financial professionals to assess and confirm that the bond has a high degree of likelihood not to increase the current facilities tax rate through 2030. Austin ISD bases this on property tax appraisals projecting to increase by 7.5 percent in each of the next two years, then by only 1.5 percent annually thereafter. Property tax values increased by 10 percent each of the last two years.
- Strong financial stewardship: The District’s current bond rating is AAA (Moody’s) and AA+ (Fitch). These ratings were reaffirmed with the sale of bonds that closed on June 21st, 2017. Moody’s cited the District’s “vibrant and growing economy, healthy financial reserves, as well as manageable debt and pension burdens” in granting the AAA rating.
- Phenomenal academic partner: Dr. Paul Cruz, Superintendent of Austin ISD, has been a wonderful leader in our regional efforts to improve direct college enrollment, college and career readiness, and well-rounded course of study completion rates.
- None of the bond money will go to the state. Under state law, Texas cannot take any local property taxes raised for to pay off Austin school bonds.
For a complete list of projects, click here. The bond election will be held November 7.
Greater Austin Chamber
The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce focuses on how the Austin Region works. We serve as the voice of business for 2,800 organizations representing a combined workforce of about 330,000 employees throughout Central Texas. Our mission is to provide leadership that facilitates the creation of a prosperous regional economy and effective advocacy for members.