President: trustees 'confident' agreement will be finalized soon
The Eanes ISD board of trustees selected a site for a proposed replacement elementary school for Valley View Elementary School on the west side of the district April 21. The proposed site is near the intersection of Bee Caves Road and Cuernavaca Drive. The addition of a school will be voted on in the May 10 bond.
"The district is currently negotiating with the property owner, and we are confident that we will secure the location in the near future," EISD board President Rob Hargett said in a news release.
The attendance zone for VVES is in the northwest corner of the EISD boundaries, but the campus is located in the center of the district. EISD is in favor of a neighborhood school for the VVES population, the district said in a release.
Citizens for Academic Excellence in Eanes, a political action committee formed by former EISD board members Al Cowan and Clint Sayers, said EISD has not made the plan to build an elementary school at the intersection of Cuernavaca Drive and Bee Caves Road known to the residents living in proximity of the intersection.
"With the construction of the planned school [residents] will find inefficiency and traffic congestion related to school drop-off and pickup relocated to their neighborhood," CAEE said in a news release.
By moving an elementary school to the attendance zone neighborhood, EISD said it would:
- Provide a neighborhood school for the VVES attendance zone
- Provide access to a modernized education environment
- Create a Child Development Center for the schools on the west side of the district
- Eliminate the inefficiency and traffic congestion of two elementary schools side by side—VVES and Forest Trail Elementary School
- Allow for more community engagement near the neighborhoods served by the school
- Decrease the amount of time elementary students spend riding the bus to and from school
"The allegations of inordinately long bus rides for Valley View students is simply not true," CAEE said in a news release. "EISD Transportation Department bus schedules show that the longest single bus route and earliest morning pickup time is for Eanes Elementary, not Valley View. When averaged, the ride for Valley View Elementary students on all bus routes is only four minutes longer than for Eanes Elementary students."
The purchase of the proposed site would be funded from the proceeds of the sale of a portion of EISD's Baldwin property, 47.7 acres of land located at the intersection Bee Caves Road and Ashley Worth Boulevard, the district said.
However, the building of the school at all is contested by CAEE.
"The district's plan to spend $63 million for a new, unneeded elementary school on Cuernavaca Drive while closing and mothballing Valley View, a perfectly good, Exemplary-rated elementary school, is a waste of taxpayers' money," CAEE said in a news release. "In addition, the increased operating costs for the new facility while continuing to run the air conditioning at Valley View with no one there adds to the existing $4.5 million annual budget deficit and will force deeper cuts to academic programs, putting at risk the educational excellence for which Eanes ISD has become known."
The district, however, estimates the cost of the school at $38 million.
Design, engineering and architectural work on the proposed elementary school would begin after receiving voter approval of the bonds and would last 12–18 months. If the bonds are approved construction of the school would begin in fall 2015 with a completion date before the school year begins in August 2017.