Travis ECHS upgrades part of Austin ISD $2.44B bond package

Early voting is less than a month away, and one of the items on the ballot is a $2.44 billion bond package for Austin ISD.

If passed, some of the funds would go towards modernizing Travis Early College High School.

Joe Frank Martinez, athletic coordinator and head football coach, has worked at the school for 19 years and says the school, built in 1953, needs major upgrades.

"We're about 20 years behind compared to other facilities," he said.

The football field is uneven, and there are no lines painted. How far athletes have to run is a guess. "I've actually broken my foot three times on the field from divots or sprinkler heads or whatever," Martinez said.

Teams often have to travel for games. "If you had turf and lights, it'd be nice to have your sub-varsity games here, middle school games here, and you really have a sense of pride and community," Martinez said.

Improvements are part of the AISD bond package. There are three propositions in it: general purpose, technology, and athletic complexes. If passed, the bond would modernize 25 schools, with $252 million going to Travis ECHS.

"The AC's working okay today, but most of the time it doesn't," Martinez said as he showed FOX 7 the weight room.

Bond funding would replace the weight room and locker room, as well as other outdated facilities.

"You go to other surrounding areas, they got nicer facilities, so this would just benefit our kids overall, participation numbers, getting those up, and just level the playing field," Martinez said.

There would also be security, technology, and utility upgrades for the school.

"The overall morale of the students and student athletes will increase, and the participation will increase," Martinez said. "They need a reason to come to school and athletics is a big part of that, to keep them involved."

As far as cost to taxpayers, AISD says the following on their website:

"The proposed bond package is expected to raise the debt service portion of the school tax rate by 1 cent per $100 in taxable value. However, Austin ISD plans to reduce the maintenance and operations portion of the school tax rate by 6.5 cents this year due to rising property values. 

"This bond proposal will not affect the tax rate reduction for this school year, and property owners are expected to see an additional estimated 3-cent reduction in the school tax rate next year, for a total reduction of 9.5 cents by 2023–24."