The Austin ISD Board of Trustees recently approved an expenditure of $4 million from bonds to purchase land for a new performing arts center in central Austin. After they just fired hundreds of teachers, taxpayers should be wondering how they justify the commitment to hiring new auxiliary staff.
It was only a few weeks ago that the AISD School Board decided to fire over 800 teachers in an attempt to close a $94 million budget gap. Considering Austin ISD spends less than half of its funds outside the classroom, you have to wonder how they plan on committing to hiring so many more auxiliary staff like janitors, maintenance workers, etc… that will be necessary to operating the PAC.
AISD points to the fact that the money approved for the land acquisition and construction of the PAC can’t be used for operations costs such as teachers’ salaries, and while this is technically true, it’s misleading. None of the money approved by the bonds will go towards the maintenance and operations of the PAC either.
That money has to come from somewhere though. They could fire more teachers like they’ve done recently, but the more likely option is that they cover the increased M & O costs with more property taxes (an option they quickly turned to for this current budget shortfall). Either way, taxpayers will be getting the short end of the stick, and academic excellence for kids will be further devalued.
Is starting construction on a new PAC more important than keeping property taxes low and funding available for more teachers in the future, especially with the budget problems facing the district? These are the questions Austinites should be asking their school board members and telling them to support the latter when they do. Let’s hope they don’t prove to be tone-deaf.
Dustin Matocha is the Social Media Coordinator for Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Connect with Dustin on Twitter.