A district-owned 12.45-acre tract of land in the Travis Country neighborhood is one of 10 properties for which Austin ISD will be seeking proposals from interested parties for the purpose of buying, leasing, exchanging or renovating.

On March 28, the AISD board of trustees unanimously approved a resolution that declares the intent to request proposals. The resolution states there are four principles that guide the request for proposals [RFP]: expanding academic offerings to students, supporting affordable housing, considering administration space and design needs, and providing revenue for the district.

A 12.45-acre tract of Austin ISD-owned land in the Travis Country neighborhood in Southwest Austin is one of 10 properties for which the district will be seeking proposals. A 12.45-acre tract of Austin ISD-owned land in the Travis Country neighborhood in
Southwest Austin is one of 10 properties for which the district will be seeking proposals.[/caption]

The RFP will be developed by late April, the board will review and approve the RFP and there will be a three- to four-month period in which proposers can respond, Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley said.

In Southwest Austin, the Travis Country land, located on Trail West Drive between Fawn Run and Twisted Tree Drive, was declared as surplus by the board in 2010, according to AISD. The land is close to the intersection of Southwest Parkway and MoPac.

The land is used as an educational nature preserve for Small Middle School’s Green Tech Academy students, said Trustee Amber Elenz, who represents District 5, which includes the Travis Country neighborhood and portions of the 78735 ZIP code.

Austin High School and several of its feeder elementary schools are
discussing using the land as an
environmental science lab, Elenz said.

“I am open to any creative ideas, especially any that increase educational opportunities for AISD
students,” Elenz said. “In a perfect world those ideas would also mesh with the desires of the Travis Country community.”

Austin ISD to request proposals for owned properties Austin ISD to request proposals for owned properties[/caption]

Superintendent Paul Cruz said the RFP is not just about selling the properties.

“It is truly about exploring other options and other opportunities,” Cruz said.

The approval of the resolution does not require the board or district to move forward with a proposal it may receive, Cruz said.

Several trustees also wanted to refute the belief that potential
transactions involving the properties are primarily for making money.

“We are not in dire need of taking a lowball offer; we are not in dire need of income tomorrow,” Elenz said. “We have some time and breathing room to be creative and community-driven in seeking more academic opportunities for our kids.”

Another notable property for which proposals will be sought is the Carruth Administration Center in downtown Austin at 1111 W. Sixth St., which is where AISD administration works and the board meets.

One property, the former Allan Elementary School at 4900 Gonzales St. in East Austin, became a point of contention for several speakers during public comment March 28. Speakers urged the board to take the property off the RFP list. Trustee Jayme Mathias said there are nine nonprofit organizations currently at the facility that provide services such as preparing adults for work and assisting early childhood learners, and neighborhood residents do not want the service providers to leave the building.

“Hearing from [the nonprofits], the desire is not so much to holding on to this aging, increasingly inefficient facility,” Mathias said. “The focus is more, ‘How do we dream about this property and what could be there?’ There are currently 9 undeveloped acres on that property.”

The board approved by a 6-3 vote an amendment proposed by Mathias that allows the service providers at Allan Facility to remain in the area in case someone buys the property and honors the history of Allan Facility and its past iterations as schools.

Trustee Yasmin Wagner, who voted against the amendment, said adding more language to the resolution could inadvertently make AISD “hamstrung” by it. Instead, the language should be “stripped to its purest form” so that a full range of options from proposers can be revealed, she said.