The Austin American-Statesman editorial board surprised local politics watchers this weekend by voicing opposition to the Austin Independent School District’s $892 million bond package. The daily recommended taxpayers vote against all four bond propositions.
The editorial board said while it’s a strong supporter of public education, it “cannot in good conscience recommend approval of a package that is riddled with questionable cost estimates and expenditures and rushed for inclusion on the May ballot.”
The board questioned the construction of new schools and new programs instead of finding ways to use underutilized schools in the district, most of which are on Austin’s eastside. It recommends more vetting of the propositions, and that the district should place the propositions on a November ballot.
The editorial board’s criticisms of the bond are similar to critiques made by the Austin Chronicle editorial board. The Chronicle says “Taxpayers have a right to be wary of a sizable bond package under a district administration that in recent years has damaged the trust necessary between schools and citizens.”
The only difference is the Chronicle endorsed the bond propositions.
The Chronicle editorial board says it put aside its concerns about how the district handled the election, arguing local schools need public support. But the Statesman says it couldn’t ignore its concerns, particularly the motives of a direct mailer with a first-grader named Mia, who asks taxpayers to vote for her future. The board opined it was a "classic play" to use a child to ask taxpayers to invest more in the district's infrastructure.
“Consider that Mia, the cute little girl on the flyer, will grow up and be into her 30's paying back millions in unnecessary debt the bond propositions would impose on her,” the board writes.
Early voting on the AISD bonds ends Tuesday, May 7. Election day is Saturday, May 11.