The Amarillo Independent School District met Monday to discuss its budget, a potential shoring project for Austin Middle School and the designation of funds for capital projects.
The board voted unanimously to approve its budget for the 2022/2023 fiscal year. As we reported last week, the budget includes an increase in funding for central administration and educational support and a decrease in funding for instruction, district operations, debt service and “other”. . The biggest change is in the “Other” category, with just under $17 million less spent in the “facilities acquisition and construction” sub-category.
After passing the budget, the board then approved the allocation of funds for capital projects such as improving school security and adding air conditioning to elementary school gymnasiums. Some of the items included in this project were offered as part of the failed Prop A bond, which would have meant they would have been funded via an increase in the property tax rate.
The board also heard a presentation from representatives of Dallas-based architectural firm Corgan and project suppliers regarding a proposed retaining project for Austin Middle School. Theresa Wieck, speaking on behalf of Corgan, said “the hope was that we would pass the tie and then move forward with a permanent solution to the structural issues.” After noting that the Prop A bond had failed last month, she presented a potential bailout scheme that would see the school used for “seven to ten years”.
During the bond election, some opponents of the bond criticized the board for not digging into alternative options. Board member Don Powell appeared to have similar criticism during the presentation, although he appeared to attempt to shift criticism to the architectural firm for not presenting the shoring option to longer term.
“I went back and reviewed my notes in preparation for the bond that the votes had the opportunity to vote on. Maybe I’m confused, I didn’t see any presentation regarding this boost as an option when it was first presented,” Powell said. Presenters noted that at the time, the council indicated that it needed a short-term solution to get them through bail, which was being considered to then offer a permanent solution if passed.
The board previously approved a guaranteed maximum price of $338,700.84 for the shoring project at its June 13 meeting. This week’s meeting was just a presentation, no board vote to move forward with the proposal took place during the meeting.