Southwest Austin residents addressed the Austin ISD board of trustees at its May 28 meeting, asking trustees to move forward with a land purchase in Southwest Austin for the site of a new comprehensive high school.
In 2008, voters approved $32 million in bond funds for a land purchase for the site of a proposed high school in south Austin. In 2013 AISD held community meetings about academic programming for the school—a decision that must be made before the district can build a campus.
Currently, Bowie High School is operating with about 500 more students than it should have at its campus, said Dee Dee Wood, representing a new group called Southwest Austin Citizens for Education.
"I think we can all agree that there is one primary goal for the new south high school—to relieve overcrowding at both Bowie and Akins [High School]," she said. "A school placed west of Bowie will in fact relieve both schools. Anything east of Bowie will only provide relief to Akins due to only a very limited boundary east of Bowie that could feasibly be moved."
Wood also said choosing to build a multi-story school instead of the traditional sprawling campus would require less land to be purchased.
Fellow Southwest Austin resident Britta Kingsmore suggested a half-day career and technical education, or CTE, center could be established at the currently under-enrolled Crockett High School campus. Students from the surrounding south high schools could visit Crockett's campus for two of the eight courses they take each semester, with the other six core courses taken at their home campuses, she said.
"I believe this sharing model could be enacted very quickly and simply using the CTE programs already in place at Crockett, and additional programs could be phased in over time. This would be an excellent solution which could work quickly until the longer-term solution of a new southwest high school can occur," she said.
At the district's May 19 meeting, some Austinites said a high school should be built in southeast Austin instead, specifically in the Dove Springs area.
"We recognize that there are needs across South Austin; however, when you look at the [district's facility master plan], only the southwest is listed as having high school populations expected to rise at an accelerated rate—a much higher rate than any other high school in all of Austin," Wood said.
Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz said the district is preparing to establish a new website to keep community members updated on the south high school, per trustee Robert Schneider's suggestion earlier this month.
"We do have the information that we're going to upload; it will be up no later than Friday of this week," Cruz said. "What we will do is we will upload all of the information that we have. That will include the work of the south high school planning team and any information done around surveys and PowerPoints."
Cruz said the south high school page will be added to the main website, and a search for "South Austin high school" should bring up the page.
The south Austin high school is slated to be among the topics discussed at the board's next work session, scheduled for June 2. More information and materials, including the presentation and a demographic report, are at www.austinisd.org.