The Facilities Master Plan, which was last updated in 2017 prior to the passage of the district’s 2017 bond, will be up for board approval this October. The vote will go alongside a vote on the district’s school changes plan, which will lay out the closing, consolidating and rezoning of schools to better use district resources and save operational money overtime.
The Facilities Master Plan is being updated to acknowledge former needs that are now being met through the 2017 bond, according to Operations Officer Matias Segura. It also points out elements that pertain to facilities that still need to be addressed and were excluded from the 2017 bond.
“Now while we're engaging in this school changes process, the idea is here over the next several months [the two plans] will begin to converge,” he said. “We'll have a really good understanding of what our future facilities will be, assuming ultimately both get approved by the board.”
Implementing some of the recommendations in the Facilities Master Plan could be achieved with realignment of programs and school feeder patterns through the school changes plan. More robust recommendations—such as the construction of a multipurpose performance center at the Burger Activity Center and improvements to high school fields, gyms and auditoriums—would likely need a new bond package to be implemented.
“We are beginning to have some discussions about when an appropriate next bond might be, but previously we had considered 2022 as a target date,” Segura said. “Certainly, with all the needs that we have, we're going to work with [Superintendent Paul Cruz] and our staff to figure out what makes sense given the recommendations, but those conversations are ongoing and we don't know when precisely that will be.”
Trustee Kristin Ashy thanked administration for focusing the Facilities Master Plan on not only buildings but also on programs being offered across the district, specifically when it comes to athletics, fine arts, and career and technical education.
“A lot of the time there can be people that do not see the connection between athletics, fine arts and CTE to academics, but there’s research showing the tie,” she said. “If you are trying to motivate your kids to come to school, very often the motivation is in these three things.”
The following recommendations are some made in the Facilities Master Plan that listed plans for specific current facilities in the district:
- Expand the Burger Activity Center in South Austin to include a multipurpose space with a gym, a fine arts auditorium and a professional development space while renovating baseball fields and stadium
- Consider options to repair or replace House Park in downtown Austin to include improved parking, a new press box and modernized facilities
- Construct a new multipurpose space at Nelson Field in Northeast Austin; relocate the baseball fields to the Noack Sports Complex further east while also creating new multipurpose fields at Noack
- Close or repurpose the Delco Center in Northeast Austin
- Reduce the number of non-arts uses of the Performing Arts Center in East Austin to increase educational opportunities
- Renovate the Clifton School in Northeast Austin to include middle school courses and create centralized agriculture and culinary programs