Austin ISD staff and administrators are in the process of updating the district's long-range facilities plan, an accounting of the state of AISD's buildings that could lay the groundwork for a 2022 bond.

The plan was adopted in 2017 before voters who reside within the district voted to approve a $1 billion bond to build new schools and upgrade campuses. Updating the plan now will allow staff to lay out options for AISD board members regarding the needs of the district and how much of an impact financial investments in a potential bond could have.

No matter what the district ultimately decides, Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said at a May 27 board meeting no bound would be enough to solve all the facilities challenges across the district.

"There is going to be a much larger need than we are going to be able to come and ask for," she said.

The 18-month road to a potential bond election in November 2022 involves multiple checkpoints as the district goes through the very early stages of assessing its buildings. On May 27, trustees approved a $1.9 million contract with DLR Group that will allow staff to work with the consultant to develop the detailed work plan to establish the facilities roadmap.

According to a timeline presented at the meeting, community engagement meetings could be held from September 2021 through the middle of 2022 before the board would vote to call for a bond election.

Trustee Noelita Lugo abstained from voting on May 27. Before Lugo won election to the board in November 2020, she was a vocal critic of the district's decision to close four schools in 2019, including Pease Elementary School in downtown Austin, where her two sons attended.

"My decision to abstain on this particular vote is simply because I'm struggling to be 100% objective about it. That's not a reflection on anyone else," Lugo said.

The district says it will approach this process "in a more intentional way" than it did in 2017, according to an announcement on its website, with a focus on equity and hearing from marginalized groups. AISD said in the announcement all staff and consultants working on the plan will receive equity training and cultural proficiency and inclusion training.