June 24, 2015

Things to do in Austin – 2015 Fourth of July Fireworks Shows

Marble Falls Fourth of July 2014There’s nothing better than a summer day spent with family and friends, then topped off with an amazing fireworks display. We have compiled a list of the BEST fireworks shows in Austin and Central Texas so you can have them all at your fingertips. There are so many, you may even be able to see fireworks on 2 different nights! 
Since so many of our clients have purchased homes all over Austin and Central Texas, we decided to include a wide variety of celebrations on this round up. 
This photo is of Rodney and Theresa's two youngest kids with their Papa at last year's 4th of July picnic in Marble Falls. 
We hope you have a great day, wherever you celebrate!

Free Map of Austin area fireworks displays

 39th Annual Austin Symphony HEB Concert and Fireworks      

Date: July 4, 2015  

Location: Auditorium Shores

Admission: FREE

Details: Vendors will be open as early as 4:00 pm. The concert starts at 7:30 pm and the fireworks show begins at 9:30 pm. You can bring chairs and bottled water in an ice chest, but not food or other drinks, including alcohol. There are many options for parking and public transit.

2.     Hill Country Galleria Independence Day Fest

Date: July 4, 2015

Location: Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave

Admission: FREE

Details: Bring the entire family for a day of fun and excitement with artwork and artisans, live music, delicious festival food and barbecue, fireworks, family entertainment, and fair rides & games. The fun starts at 4:00 pm and the day will be capped off with fireworks at 9:45 pm.

3.      Volente Beach Fireworks Show

Date: July 5, 2015

Location: Volente Beach Water Park on Lake Travis

Admission: $10

Details: The fireworks show is free with waterpark admission or just $10 after 6:00 pm if you’re just interested in the fireworks. The display starts at dusk.

4.      Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic

Date: July 4, 2015

Location: Circuit of the Americas’ Austin 360 Ampitheater

Admission: $35 and up

Details: This year marks the 42nd edition of one of America’s most celebrated festivals. The focus in on live music, with 20 artists scheduled this year. A special fireworks show will cap off the night.

5.      Bob Schneider’s Fourth of July Bash

Date: July 4th, 2015

Location: Nutty Brown Café

Admission: $17 and up

Details: Local Austin musician Bob Schneider is back for his annual 4th of July Bash at the Nutty Brown Café. There will be two opening acts and a spectacular fireworks show as well. Ticket details and more information are online.

6.      Cedar Park 4th of July Celebration

Date: July 4, 2015

Location: Milburn Park – 1901 Sun Chase Blvd

Admission: FREE

Details: The community parade starts at 10 am. The celebration in Milburn Park starts at 4 pm with games, free watermelon, live music and dancing. The fireworks display starts at 9:15pm.

7.      Kyle’s Independence Day Celebration

Date: July 4, 2015

Location: Plum Creek Golf Course

Admission: FREE

Details: From 6-9 pm the pre-show celebration at the Plum Creek Golf Course clubhouse will feature live music. Concessions will be sold; no outside food or drink allowed. There will be a free public music program at the Hays Performing Arts Center from 7 – 9:30 pm, which offers a great view of the fireworks. The fireworks display will launch around 9:30 pm.

8.      Pflugerville’s PFirecracker Pfestival

Date: July 4, 2015

Location: Lake Pflugerville

Admission: FREE

Details: The event features 2 live music stages, a children’s area on the north and south shores of the lake, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors and live music. There is no on-site parking, only shuttle buses. After the fireworks display, the 1965 classic movie Beach Blanket Bingo will be shown.  

9.      Round Rock Frontier Days and 4th of July Fireworks

Date: July 4, 2015

Location: Old Settler’s Park

Admission: FREE

Details: The day starts with a community parade at 10 am and the festival in Old Settlers’ Park opens at noon. There is a full schedule of events, from live music to pig races to a jalepeno pepper earing contest! The fireworks display will be timed to live music from the Austin Symphonic Band and will begin at Dark. The movie Jurassic Park will be shown in the park after the fireworks.

10 Jason Isaac’s Fire in the Sky – Dripping Springs 4th of July Fireworks

Date: July 4th

Location: Dripping Springs Ranch Park

Admission: FREE

Details: State Representative Jason Isaac hosts this annual fireworks show. VIP tickets that include access to an air conditioned tent, cold beverages, dinner catered by the Salt Lick, and an after-fireworks party are available. But you don’t have to buy a ticket to enjoy the fireworks display and food vendors.

 A former teacher, Theresa Bastian is passionate about public education. Together with her husband, Rodney, she now owns Keep Austin Weird Homes, a real estate brokerage that focuses on building business and personal relationships with honesty and integrity. Together, they are raising a blended family of 5 great kids and 1 dog who has her moments.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU TODAY?
I want to sell my Austin, TX property
I’d like to Search for Austin Real Estate
I’d like to speak to someone from Keep Austin Weird Homes

 

 

 

June 9, 2015

What are the Steps to Buying My First Home?

You are probably flirting with idea of buying a house because you are frustrated with throwing your rent money away, you've been saving up, or you’re ready to take on this part of the American Dream and choose the best out of 3 homes just like they do on House Hunters. Well, you have to start somewhere!

 

First Home Buyer Lauren Tindal Keep Austin Weird HomesSomewhere begins with educating yourself of what you'll need to start looking. The first two relationships needed for a First Time Home Buyer: an Ace Agent and a Lender.

 

Your Ace Agent is there from the beginning taking notes on your needs and desires. Your Lender helps you understand your financial position, helps me determine what price range you are able to shop in and confirm you are a qualified buyer for my protection and the sellers'.

 

Once a quick (usually a 24 hour period) the Lender creates what we call a pre-qualified letter using information you’ve provided such as tax forms and bank statements. This is proof their process has qualified you for a home loan. Once your Ace Agent has this in hand we are ready to roll to tour homes and hopefully, make offers.

 

Once we start looking at properties together there is no typical time frame. You might be saying: "Wait, we don’t just get to see three homes and pick the best like on T.V.?" Not even close! Each first time home buyer's needs are different and I take the time to meet your individual needs.

 

When you find a house you fall in love with then it's go time. We waste no time in submitting a contact to the seller. If your offer is accepted, it will typically take 30-45 days from acceptance date to the day when I will hand you the keys to your very own first home!

 

Lauren Tindal
Realtor® at Keep Austin Weird Homes
Lauren@KeepAustinWeirdHomes.com

 

June 9, 2015

Renting vs Buying

Are you ready to make the leap from renting to buying? Let’s look at some deciding factors when comparing the two in the Austin market.

 

When renting in the Austin market you haven’t invested, you haven’t gained any tax break or potential equity, and your current living situation is limited/monitored by your landlord including: lease length, design choices, whether you can have pets, etc. When you own a home, you are making one of the largest investments of your life, given tax breaks, gain equity and have the freedom to make changes to your property that can benefit your property value and your quality of life!  Is it better to rent or buy first time home buyer

 

When you rent a house in Austin you have to put down a deposit (typically one month’s rent), a pet deposit (if you have one, plus extra deposits for multiple pets) plus an application fee for each renter. This could add up quickly - I have seen people have to write over $5,000 in checks to move into a home that rents for $2,500 per month. Did you know for an FHA loan you can put down just 3.5% of the home's purchase price? On a $225,000 home that’s only $7,875 for a down payment! In this scenario the mortgage payments could be as low as $1,600!

 

Let’s take a look at the average rental prices vs. home prices for a three bedroom and two bathroom properties in Austin right now. The average 3 bed/2 bath rental in Austin will run you $1,700 and higher vs. the average 3 bed/2 bath house in Austin priced around $225,000. You do the math. 

 

But don't take MY word for it - here is a link to a rent vs own calculator where you can input your answers to specific questions about your lifestyle and your plans and get advice on whether buying or renting is better for you. Give me a call after you take a look - I'd love to walk you through the details on how to use it.

June 9, 2015

What do I look for when trying to buy a house?

When you are initially starting your first time home buying process you probably have an idea of what neighborhood you’d ideally like to look in. 

 

So, what else do you look for when buying your first house? Price range, area and home conditions are the main three depending on your other criteria. We might start by showing you your options in your desired area and expand from there depending on inventory. When we finally meet to tour homes your Ace Agent w

Keep Austin Weird Homes first time buyer home inspection lauren tindalill take note of home conditions including but not limited to any evidence of foundation issues, unsafe conditions, non-working items, flooding, leaks, exterior conditions, etc. I will help educate you so you learn about the homes you are seeing.

Before we write a contract we do what’s called “pulling comps,” meaning gathering data from previous home sales in the area to see comparable prices for your specific home you like. We want to make sure you aren't paying too much for a home! Once you and your Ace Agent feel comfortable writing a contract for either under the sales price, at the sales price or over the sales price… then we submit that offer to the sellers!

Remember, once you are under contract (meaning your offer is accepted) you’ll have an “option period” where the home inspection takes place. Neither you nor I are qualified to inspect or make judgments about certain physical parts of the home and that’s where the inspector comes in. If they find problems with the home that weren’t seen by you and I then we can legally walk away from the purchase without losing the earnest money or ask the seller to make the improvements.

June 9, 2015

Do I really need a Real Estate Agent?

As a first time home buyer, you might be asking yourself - do I really need a real estate agent?

 

The answer is YES, simple as that. How else do you intend to make appointments with sellers and view their homes? How will you figure out what’s just come on the market in the last hour? How will you submit a legitimate contract to the seller’s agent that will be positioned more strongly than the other offers?

 

Plus, working with a buyers' agent costs you nothing. Wait, nothing? Yes! Nothing! A buyers' agent is paid by the seller, and that is already negotiated at the time the sellers chose to place their home on the market.

 

As a buyers' agent specializing in first time buyers, my job is to do our best to match you with a home that fits your needs and hopefully most of your wants, too. I like to sit down with my clients before the process starts, ask questions and listen. Once we have an understanding and I have a pre-qualification letter from your lender, then the process begins!

 

With that said, you have to understand that your first home might not be your dream home. Remember, when there’s a budget – there’s compromise. But I will work with you to help you identify what’s important to you in a home. We will make a list, keeping in mind we MIGHT not be able to meet ALL those requirements depending on the price range. We might be meeting to look at homes a couple times a week or a couple times a month depending on your schedule, timeline and inventory that is available.

 

First Time Buyer Keys Keep Austin Weird HomesOnce you've decided you like a home and want to make an offer I will write up the offer. The offer needs to be signed by you before submission. If you haven’t already gone through the contract with your agent before now is the time. If you have any questions or hesitations always ask before signing! I will be patient and explain all the details.

 

 

Sometimes the first contract you write is accepted but sometimes the odds are not in your favor. When the market is hot and you don’t have a lot of money to play with be prepared to submit several offers.

 

The thought of a first time buyer going through this process without an agent is a mystery to me. I would love to answer your questions and help - just email me at lauren@keepaustinweirdhomes.com and let's get started!

June 9, 2015

What is the Lender's Job?

What does a Lender Mean to Me as a First Time Home Buyer?

 

Your lender means a lot!! The Lender is a vital part in the home buying process. I surely can’t loan you to buy your home, and few of us are sitting on hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, so who is going to help you with the financial side of things? The Lender! Your lender will provide you with a mortgage to finance your home, estimate your interest rate and help you determine which loan type best fits you.

 

At Keep Austin Weird Homes, we are big supporters of LOCAL lenders due to their level of customer service, direct communication, and help. These are the same reasons you also should lean towards a local lender. An important part of working with a local lender that first time home buyers often appreciate is that you can walk into an office, meet the staff and ask all the questions your heart desires. You have the opportunity to shop around as well. Pick a couple lenders to interview. 

Loan application approved

The lender you work with will gather your financial history and follow all the steps to get your loan closed from the moment we are under contract to the closing date.

 

Initially, they will need bank statements, credit score, pay stubs, W-2’s, and tax returns. With these pieces of information, the lender will be able to determine what type of loan you qualify for, what price range you should be looking in and estimate of your interest rate.

 

They will also be able to create a “pre-qualification letter.”  This is a very important part of the home buying processes. Without this pre-qual letter most agents won’t consider taking you out to look at houses because there is no proof that you have the money to purchase a home. We use this letter when writing contracts so the seller has an extra blanket of security in knowing you have the finances to buy their house.

 

 

I would be happy to offer you some names of local lenders that my clients have enjoyed working with recently if you need a place to start. You can interview a couple different lenders and get a feel for which one suits you best. Email me at lauren@keepaustinweirdhomes.com and let’s get started!

 

March 28, 2015

Trustee Talk - March 26, 2015

About 45 people gathered Thursday evening at Bailey Middle School to hear AISD District 7 Trustee Robert Schneider at an open forum he hosted to discuss issues facing South and Southwest Austin.

The Bullet Point Takeaways:

  • There is a shortage of specialized, or magnet, programs (like LASA or STEM) south of the river
  • There are 660 empty seats available at Crockett High School and it’s not projected to increase
  • Bowie and Akins high schools are over capacity and enrollments are projected to increase (at Bowie more than at Akins)
  • The district has the money to buy land for a new high school (or schools)
  • The district has no money to build or operate a new school
  • Under the best financial scenario (which we are not under), it would be several years before a new school could be built
  • Boundary changes are not currently under consideration and likely will not be
  • One way to reduce enrollment at overcrowded campuses is to attract some students who currently go there to another campus by offering a magnet program at that campus

The Whole Enchilada:

Trustee Schneider opened with an update on the budget issues facing AISD. The potential good news is that House Public Education Committee Chair Jimmie Don Aycock will file House Bill 1759, which if passed will add approximately 3 billion much needed dollars to the state’s public education budget. The bad news is that AISD continues to send millions of dollars - $175 million in 2015 – back to the state under the recapture law that sends money from ‘property rich’ districts to be redistributed to ‘property poor’ districts. Austin is the top contributor to recapture.

He then dove into the high school enrollment issue that is on so many people’s minds. Crockett and Travis high schools are under their enrollment capacities (by 660 and approx.. 400 seats, respectively) while Bowie and Akins are over capacity and Austin is basically at capacity. He moved the conversation into ways the district could create capacity without building a new school. Speaking highly of his own childrens’ experience at LASA, the district’s Liberal Arts and Science Academy, he noted that there are 1,020 LASA students currently enrolled on the LBJ High School campus in Northeast Austin and that LASA turned away over 100 qualified students because of space constraints. Currently, 220  LASA students come from Bowie’s attendance zone and a total of one-third of LASA’s students travel from south Austin. Due to the difficulties caused by traffic and other logistics (a student from Bowie’s neighborhood would catch their bus to LASA at 5:45 am), there would likely be hundreds more students who would elect to leave their home campuses to attend a LASA program located closer to their homes.

Trustee Schneider relayed that the current Board of Trustees has made no substantial movement on purchasing land for a new high school. He states, “My two site proposal would have been approved by the board if it had been voted on before the board change.” This statement seems to fly in the face of the discussion at the March 9th trustee work session, when neither Board President Hinojosa nor the district’s legal counsel could recall the ‘two site’ proposal that Trustee Schneider repeatedly referred to.

Questions and Answers:

Q – We have heard that AISDs enrollment is shrinking – is this because kids are leaving to go to private school?

A – “There is a contingent on the school board interested in doing a marketing campaign that would showcase the good things at AISD. They even want to do exit interviews on students who leave. Bowie is really the last comprehensive public school the district has. Anderson has I.B., McCallum has fine arts. I have friends who want STEM, etc but they get a fair amount of pushback from the Bowie administration. It was an uphill battle to get a computer science class at Bowie this year but when course sheets came out the class wasn’t on there. There are a lot of competing interests at Bowie that don’t want things to change”.

Q – Does the district track the reasons kids don’t re-enroll in AISD?

A – (from a parent who serves on the district’s Parent Advisory Council) AISD recently did share a study that tracked this. Most students left AISD for charter schools, or to for school in other states or other public school districts. It was a lower number that left for private schools. It was noted, however, that these results could differ from one part of the district to another, and they currently are not tracked by area. Trustee Schneider added that more students leave the district after 5th grade than at any other point.

Q – I heard a rumor that LASA parents don’t want to have a LASA South.   Lasa

A – Since LASA is more like a college atmosphere, there is a feeling that if you suck kids out, some classes will suffer. I believe strongly in LASA and I will support LASA, but they don’t have a franchise on it.  LASA currently gets a .2 weight in funding that’s going to go away, along with transportation. That’s what parents should be more concerned with.

Q – Would the board survey middle schoolers to ask if they’d consider going to LASA if it were south vs. where it’s been located?

A – I haven’t heard this proposed but I think surveying the middle schoolers would be a good idea. I would love to see a pre-LASA middle school program of some kind.

Q – Help me understand how LASA South would help the overcrowding at Bowie> How many kids would it pull from Bowie?

A – Right now there are kids at Bowie who are interested in LASA, and they qualify to get in to LASA, but they don’t choose to go there because of the transportation issues.  If these kids chose to attend LASA on a South Austin campus other than Bowie, such as Crockett, it would free up seats at Bowie. And a LASA South program could encourage other students who lived in that school’s attendance zone to stay at their home school instead of transferring to a school like Bowie. That would decrease Bowie’s numbers too.

Q – Is a boundary change a last resort?

A – Yes. The bloodletting that will happen with a boundary chance is going to prevent the district from going a lot of things. Politically, it’s not a good idea.

Q – Why doesn’t Crockett want to host a LASA South?

A – There’s school of thought that you don’t tell a community what’s going to happen to it. I’m sure if the idea had come from Crockett it would be received differently.

Q – Has the board been discussing the Texas Civil Rights Project?
A - There is a contingent on the board that believes that AISD needs to do a review of equity. That somehow our area is coming out ahead, even though per student spending at Bowie is one of the lowest in the district. It all boils down to the fact that there isn’t one standard accepted definition of “equity”. I am opposed to the Portland Model (which would mandate individual school PTAs to pool a percentage of the funds they raise for the use of the entire district), but the board is split on this issue.

Q – What is the status of the land purchase for the new high school that was authorized by the voters 7 years ago?

A – “I can tell you we are looking at more than 1 site. In Southeast Austin there are many choices and great prices. In Southwest Austin there are not as many choices and it’s a lot more expensive. If we don’t buy land in Southwest Austin now, we are telling Southwest Austin that we are never going to build a high school there.” In 4-5 years, Bowie will be 1,000 seats over capacity. Akins will be a little over, but the projections are flat for growth. There are conflicting interests. One of my fellow trustees has said she has met with the Bowie principal and has been told there is no need for change.

Q – What’s the earliest year we could open a new high school in South Austin assuming the land is purchased soon?

A – We would have to float a new bond. There would be a lot of things to manage. 2020 would be the earliest possible new school.

My Two Cents:

South Austin has been promised a new high school for so many years, that many people assume this is the best and only way to fix the overcrowding at Bowie and Akins. However, the reality of the district’s budget means a new school is NOT waiting right around the corner. Even after the land is purchased (IF it is purchased), the district would have to create a bond package for the construction to present to the voters (the last bond package took approx. a year to pull together), then IF the bond passes, there would still be several years of feasibility and engineering studies, and of course the actual construction.

It does not make sense to continue to hold out for the new high school as our only solution, especially given the political reality that the new campus may be placed in a part of South Austin that doesn’t create as much relief for Bowie. It is important that South Austin parents and community members pay attention to the other achievable solutions that can be implemented in time to make a difference. My recommendation is that parents attend at least one of the series of “Community Conversations” that AISD is going to hold throughout South Austin in April and May 2015 and register their support for placing a magnet program (such as LASA or STEM) at a campus that is not full (such as Crockett).

Contact your Legislators

 

And finally, contact your legislators to register your support for House Bill 1759 which will increase funding to public schools.

 

A former teacher, Theresa Bastian is passionate about public education. Together with her husband, Rodney, she now owns Keep Austin Weird Homes, a real estate brokerage that focuses on building business and personal relationships with honesty and integrity. Together, they are raising a blended family of 5 great kids and 1 dog that has her moments.

Posted in Schools
March 25, 2015

City of Austin Economic Development

At the Platinum 50’s Thinkers and Doers Symposium this morning, those of us lucky enough to be in attendance heard from Kevin Johns, head of the Economic Development Department of the City of Austin.

 

Locally Austin

He shared an overview of how his office is structured into five different divisions to ensure that Austin’s economy is diversified. The five divisions (with some details about each) are:

·         Global Business Recruitment and Expansion

o   The Sister City program has been adapted to focus on Science Parks globally. To participate, cities must agree to be open to doing business in Austin, offer direct flights to Austin, offer classes on doing business in Austin, etc.

o   Although the economic incentives given to business that relocate to Austin are sometimes criticizes, the return on investment for these incentives is 220%.

·         Cultural Arts

o   Currently 240 cultural and arts programs are funded by the city. Austin also offers the Take it to the Next Level program, which trains for artists and musicians to run successful businesses.

·         Small Business Programs

o   The Family Business Loan Program offers low-interest loans to family owned small business that are expanding. Once a business borrows $35,000, they must agree to hire a non-family member employee.Seaholm

·         Redevelopment

Recently, 56 million dollars was generated for affordable housing programs from the initial phases of the Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment project.       

·         Music and Entertainment Division

o   One great program here is the Music Venue loans, which are granted to retrofit existing venues with the latest in soundproofing.

o   Listenair is a radio station that allows Austin’s music to be played in over 50 countries.

 

 

You see, even though Austin is arguably the strongest city in the U.S. economically right now, Johns is acutely aware that there have been 7 major recessions since the end of World War 2. He believes aggressive economic diversification will allow Austin to weather the next one.

As a Realtor who regularly assists people in accomplishing their dreams of moving to Austin, it was great to hear about so many of the programs our city has in place to keep growing while staying true to the arts and music that is at our city's soul.

A former teacher, Theresa Bastian is passionate about public education. Together with her husband, Rodney, she now owns Keep Austin Weird Homes, a real estate brokerage that focuses on building business and personal relationships with honesty and integrity. Together, they are raising a blended family of 5 great kids and 1 dog that has her moments.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU TODAY?
I want to sell my Austin, TX property
I’d like to Search for Austin Real Estate
I’d like to speak to someone from Keep Austin Weird Homes

 

 

 

Posted in Austin News
March 16, 2015

Keep Austin Weird Homes Wins Another Multiple Offer Negotiation!

Keep Austin Weird Homes is excited to win another multiple offer situation for our South Austin home buyers at 3105 Jubilee Trail!!

Austin, March 16, 2015 - Keep Austin Weird Homes

Keep Austin Weird Homes, an Austin real estate brokerage, has sold another house in the Tanglewood Forest neighborhood of South Austin. Although there were multiple offers in the very first day the house was on the market, our clients didn't let that intimidate them, because we had already discussed our strategies for how to handle multiple offer situations. We guided them on every point of their offer to be certain it would be compelling to the seller in this fast-paced Austin real estate market. In the end, our client won the multiple offer bidding war WITHOUT paying more than the maximum price they had established.

3105 Jubilee Trail porch

The 1,622 sf home on a fenced lot in Tanglewood Forest had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Probably the most outstanding features about this home were the new deck and dog run in back and the wraparound front and side porches. Students who live in this home would attend Kocurek Elementary, Bailey Middle School, and Akins High School.

This home is located in Austin's zip code of 7848. The number of sales in this area of Austin in February 2015 was 49, a decrease from the 62 that sold in February 2014. In February, the average selling price per square foot for homes in 78748 was $138.25 with an average sales price of $260,608. This is a 6.82% change since last February’s average sales price of $243,957. The average number of days homes spend on the market in Austin’s 78748 zip code is 37, which is almost the exact same as last February’s 36 sales.

3105 Jubilee Trail  3105 Jubilee Trail back

Keep Austin Weird Homes represented the buyers of this property, who intend to use it as an investment property. If YOU are interested in learning more about becoming a real estate investor, or about our multiple offer strategies, please contact us. We’d love to have a conversation to see if we might be a fit to work together.

A former teacher, Theresa Bastian is passionate about public education. Together with her husband, Rodney, she owns Keep Austin Weird Homes, a real estate brokerage that focuses on building business and personal relationships with honesty and integrity. Together, they are raising a blended family of 5 great kids and 1 dog that has her moments.

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU TODAY?
I want to sell my Austin, TX property
I’d like to Search for Austin Real Estate
I’d like to speak to someone from Keep Austin Weird Homes

 



March 10, 2015

Land Banking or Planning for the Future?

AISD Trustees Discuss the Options for a New South Austin High School in a Work Session on 3/9/15

As those of us who attended the Trustee's work session in person or live streamed it know, the session went way over its allotted time slot on the agenda, and there was some strong debate about the right course of action. But finally, on a positive note, the Trustees ended by agreeing to make a decision by December of 2015 about the land purchase for the new South Austin High School. 

As Trustee Saldana said, "As a resident of South Austin, I feel and fear the citizens' frustration...folks feel like they've been kept in limbo too long." And Trustee Pace agreed with this, referencing a newspaper article that promised a new high school in Southwest Austin. The date on the article? 2001 - a decade and a half ago. 

But despite the years of promises to the community, and the fact that the money to buy the land for a new high school has already been approved by the voters (back in 2008), the decision before the board is not WHERE to buy land. It is WHETHER to buy land at all.

You see, the district's sSchool OVercrowdingtudent enrollment and budget projections have changed dramatically. The very latest projections show Bowie increasing in population by about 500 students in the next 5 years, while all of the other high schools in South Austin, including Akins, are projected to have slight population declines. 

The Board of Trustees is aware that the public perceives the solution to existing overcrowding is a new high school. The Board plans to have a series of community conversations to educate citizens about the demographic projections and financial realities before it makes a final decision on the land purchase.

As Trustee Elenz stated, "One of the misunderstandings is that we are talking about new high schools but we are talking about land. Land banking. Perhaps in 10 years we will need a new HS. Does it make sense to purchase land now and sit on it? We need to make it very clear that we are not guaranteeing a high school - ever. We have no money to build a high school. We have no money to operate a high school."

Trustee Schneider offered a different perspective, “I’ve heard the talk about land banking and I find that curious. I know what’s available in SW Austin. If you don’t do something now, there won’t be any tracts available. We could have purchased something 5 years ago when we had a real estate bust but we didn’t. Land banking IS planning for the future.”

Another issue that the Trustees disagreed on was whether or not the Board had previously authorized considering a purchase of more than one parcel. Trustee Schneider repeatedly referenced a board meeting from December 2014 in which he claimed the board members (many of which have been replaced with newly elected members since then) authorized district staff to move forward with consideration of buying 2 separate parcels of land. Neither President Hinojosa nor the district’s legal counsel confirmed his recollection of this. My own search of the webcasts from the board sessions in December 2014 couldn’t locate any record of this discussion either. Trustee Saldana made this comment about the potential of purchasing 2 sites, “It really saddens me that we are creating community coalitions in SW Austin and SE Austin rather than working towards a solution that best serves all of our students.”

------------------AISD School Board

 Woven into the discussion about the potential land purchase was a conversation about whether ASID should offer a magnet program somewhere in South Austin. Currently, all of the district’s magnet programs are located north of the river. Superintendent Cruz clarified that this is considered a programming decision which has already been approved by the Board. So work can move forward on this project even though the land purchase is currently on hold pending direction from the Board. In a nutshell, any conversation about a magnet school in South Austin should be considered separate from the discussion about buying land for a new high school.

 

A former teacher, Theresa Bastian is passionate about public education. Together with her husband, Rodney, she now owns Keep Austin Weird Homes, a real estate brokerage that focuses on building business and personal relationships with honesty and integrity. Together, they are raising a blended family of 5 great kids and 1 dog that has her moments.