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Austin district cancels hearing on school closures, renovations

The final recommendations for the Austin school district’s facilities plan are not yet ready, forcing the district to postpone a planned public hearing on the issue after spring break.

Administrators and facility advisory committee members were unable to finalize the document prior to today, which was necessary to post the agenda within legal requirements for the March 20 public hearing, said board President Kendall Pace. They need more time to incorporate the input they received this week from the school board and from the community in the last few facility advisory committee meetings, she said.

In recent weeks, dozens of parents, and a few school board members, have pushed back against some of the more contentious proposals, which so far have included the closure of eight schools and moving the nationally-recognized Liberal Arts and Science Academy. This week, committee members and administrators weighed removing the names of the underenrolled campuses that could be closed under the criteria outlined in the plan.

The update on the 20-year facilities master plan, which is to detail hundreds of facility changes, including consolidating a handful of schools and building six new campuses, now is likely to come before the board on March 27. The vote will be moved to April.

The decision came minutes after the sign up for the public hearing opened. One person had already called to sign up.

“This is such an important document that I don’t mind delaying the discussion because we want a thoughtful, thorough, strong recommended facilities master plan that the committee and administration can stand behind,” Pace said.

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