"This is the largest and most comprehensive project in Austin ISD history," said Michael Mann, executive director for construction management with Austin ISD. "With over 70% voter approval, we have been given the power to improve the learning environments for the students, faculty and staff. Our responsibility now is to deliver."
Mann said officials with Austin ISD have been "working tirelessly" on plans for the bond, which include the modification of four campuses to move away from the open-concept design, as well as 25 planned school modernizations. The district anticipates it will complete the majority of these projects within five years and deliver all of them within six years.
In addition to new schools and the modernization of other schools, Mann said all campuses will receive safety and security upgrades. These upgrades include new locks, fencing and security vestibules at the entrance to every school, Mann said.
"Every school will be touched in one way or another," Mann said. "We've prioritized Title I schools, which focus on underserved communities within the district."
Repairing HVAC systems is another districtwide priority, Mann said.
"We are working on which schools have the highest needs right now," Mann said. "We are prioritizing that across the district, because nobody should be going into a campus without a properly working HVAC system."
Savings from energy costs will be seen the moment each modernized campus opens its doors, Mann said.
"As the new schools come online two years from now, with the first one opening, savings will start as soon as it opens, because the cost in energy to run the school will be much less," Mann said.
Mann said although teacher housing was not included in the bond, the district is working on other ways to go about handling it. He said there is "a lot of work" going into it as it "is a need" the district recognizes.
For those who would like to get involved in the planning, campus architectural teams are being formed at schools that are receiving the modernizations. These teams are made up of community members, faculty and staff, students, and more. Each team will be responsible for gathering and providing community input during planning, design and construction as the district modernizes the facility, Mann said.
Students should be able to remain on their own campus while modernizations are taking place, Mann said, possibly in portable buildings throughout the duration of construction.
"However, some campuses will need to relocate or 'swing' to an alternate facility," he said. "The details for these campuses are still being refined and will be shared as early as possible."
Mann said the district is committed to ensuring diversity in contracting for the 2022 bond projects, with a goal to support underserved communities and promote the growth of historically underutilized businesses, such as minority- and women-owned businesses.
"Partnering with [historically underutilized businesses] on bond-funded construction and professional service projects is part of our commitment to equity and empowerment," Mann said.
For more information about the historically underutilized businesses program, visit www.austinisd.org/hub. For a full schedule of each project, visit www.aisdfuture.com.
"Voters placed enormous trust in us when they approved this bond package, and with that trust comes an obligation to implement this program as efficiently as possible while also fulfilling the commitments we made to prioritize safety, security and equity," Austin ISD Interim Superintendent Matias Segura said.