Education
9:31 am
Wed May 15, 2013

AISD’s Prop 4 Failure Means Less Money for Special Ed Schools

This failure of AISD bond Proposition 4 means the district's two schools for disabled children won't be getting as many renovations and repairs as the district had proposed.

Prop 4 would've put $10 million toward the district's two schools for disabled children, the Rosedale School and the Clifton Career Development Center. It also would have earmarked money for Career and Technical and Fine Art programs.

If Prop 4 had passed, officials say special education improvements at the Rosedale campus would’ve been a first priority for the district. 

“We’ve got parts of those buildings that aren’t ADA compliant. They meet code, but we wouldn’t be able to build that building the way it was built, today," said Jeff  Kauffmann with AISD's facilities department.

Kauffman spoke in an interview before the bond election. He said the money would've enabled the district to install things like mechanical chair-hoist systems in classrooms. Those systems more efficiently move students around classrooms.

“There’s also not a lot of privacy when it comes to personal hygiene, so we want to improve that for the special eds," Kauffmann said. "They need more a lot of specialty resources, for example in the library, computer labs. They need to be improved to meet the special needs of these students.” 

The bonds would have put $8.5 million into the Rosedale school; it will now receive $400,000 for facility and technology upgrades, as earmarked in the other props that did pass. Rosedale Principal Elizabeth Dickey says the school is looking to the local non-profit, the Rosedale Foundation, for donations.

“We’re looking at getting really creative at ways to improve the school and connect with the community," Dickey said.

The foundation also holds an annual Rosedale Ride to raise money for the school. It usually raises $40,000 a year, in addition to other donations.

Clifton Career Development School will receive a third of the maximum funding it could’ve received from the bonds – a little more than $1 million. Clifton Principal Tony Dishner says the school will also need to get creative in the way it expands its future programs, “and try to seek other ways of funding some of these things that really are going to have to happen if we continue to expand our program."

Clifton’s student population has grown by 500 percent since it opened in 2007. Dishner says the school is open to working with private partners to come up with additional funding and programming.

The Rosedale and Clifton renovation project was one of 13 projects AISD recommended to the school board last year. The School Board referred four of those recommendations to the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee. They were all put in Prop 4.  

Austin School Board Trustee Robert Schneider says the Special Ed improvements needed to be in the bond, because the renovations required money the district didn’t have in its budget.  He says the question now is whether it’s worth it to put so much money into facilities like Rosedale.

“We need to take a look at the age of our facilities and make a value call to continue trying to upkeep – or do we need to look at replacing facilities," Schneider says. "I for one am in the place where Rosedale is too old. Something needs to be done to replace that facilities versus doing any more restoration.”

While Rosedale was built in 1939, principal Elizabeth Dickey says the facility is still usable.