Amid concern from residents and the absence of Superintendent Paul Norton from the July 20 meeting, Lake Travis ISD postponed the decision to call a $703 million November bond election until its next meeting on Aug. 17.

"This board understands the recommendation that came from the bond advisory committee is a large number. It's not something that we, in our district, have seen before," board member Kim Flasch said. "But I also want to say that it is not something that any of us are taking lightly. I think it's a good idea that we postponed it so that we can have Mr. Norton here, so we can have a solid conversation about line items."

The bond is comprised of three propositions. Proposition A includes $548.41 million for school district facilities, necessary sites and new school buses. Proposition B allots $60.79 million for technology improvements, while Proposition C issues $93.8 million for school stadium facilities. All three propositions include language allowing the district to levy a property tax increase to repay the bonds.

The bond cycle in the district is typically every five years due to the timing of the demographer's report, said Pam Sanchez, LTISD assistant superintendent for business services. The larger ticket items included, alongside considerations of ongoing student growth, is why the price of the bond is so high this time around.

"I think it's important for the community to understand that all of the information that has been given to the bond committee is the same information that we've seen, and it is all available online on the district website. I would encourage people to dig into that and take a look, that is the information [the board] has before us at this time."

The information available on the district website is from Community Meeting No. 4 of the bond advisory committee, which convened throughout March and April to discuss potential details of the bond. This presentation outlines specific projects on each campus, as well as district-wide upgrades.

Several speakers during the public comment section of the meeting expressed concerns about overspending and a lack of transparency with existing bond funds, requesting the board postpone the decision to hold a bond election until a later date.

Among other examples, speaker Susan Harbin pointed to funding for middle school No. 3, or Bee Cave Middle School, funded under the 2018 bond, as an example of overspending and lack of clarity in relation to previous bonds.

“Middle school No. 3 was part of the 2018 bond program for $76 million and is at least $1.4 million over budget. The school opened in August 2019. The project is shown as completed on the website, but yet administration is still charging expenses to this bond project,” Harbin said. “If the project is completed, then why is 2.4 million still being shown as a balance to complete and an expenditure still being booked?"

Speakers also asked whether the $703 million price tag is too high, and questioned if the board had considered the impact this would have on local taxes coupled with inflation and a potential economic recession in the future.

“I think we should really move really cautiously on this and figure out if we're doing the right thing,” speaker Izzy Zuela said. “We have a stock market that took a plunge and we have gas prices that are more than three times what they used to be. Taxes on our homes are through the roof. I just think maybe we can trim that a little bit and maybe take... more time just to make sure we're doing the right thing, doing right by families and kids."

The district has until Aug. 22 to call a bond election for this November.