AISD Puts District Offices Up For Sale

After posting yesterday about Austin Independent School District (AISD) superintendent Meria Carstarphen announcing that the 10-year facilities plan, including the controversial proposal to close schools in the district, would be revisited with a goal to enact it in November, today we find out that AISD has put two of their administrative offices up for sale. 

The idea of selling these two properties is not new. According to the story in today’s Austin American-Statesman, the concept first surfaced in 2000 when the Texas Comptroller reviewed the schools’ finances. But, after years of no action, the idea gained popularity among protesting parents as a way for the district to save money without closing neighborhood schools – or at least decreasing the number of schools impacted.

The prime property is the headquarters building on West 6th Street. Located in what has become an extremely hot commercial/retail market, the property is being sold in a bidding process with a minimum bid set at $32 million.  The second building, known as the Baker Center, is located in Hyde Park on Avenue B and is listed with a minimum bid of $7.5 million.  Not mentioned is the amount of savings that would occur by reducing the upkeep and maintenance needed once these two buildings are sold. But, as it stands, the minimum bids total nearly $40 million which would all but close the budget gap for 2011-12.  The proposed budget originally showed a deficit of $94 million, but was reduced to $46.3 million through the reduction of jobs in the district. 1,153 jobs were cut, including 571 teaching positions.

The move to sell these buildings would not prevent future shortfalls in the budget, so while this may temporarily stall school closures, no one at the district is claiming that this will save the schools indefinitely. It remains to be seen how the district handles the 10-year facilities plan and how it will address the proposed school closures.

We’ve been following this story for some time. Here is a list of past posts to help you understand the background to these discussions and the potential impact on local schools.

–  AISD Considers School Closures (Jan 10, 2011)
–  AISD School Closures Considers Alternatives (Jan 20, 2011)
–  More AISD Schools Added To Closure List (Jan 27, 2011)
–  AISD Backs Off School Closures (Mar 10, 2011)
–  Imagine Austin Proceeds Forward (Mar 15, 2011)
–  AISD To Look Again At School Closures (May 18, 2011)

To read the full story in the Austin American-Statesman, please click here.

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