Nuclear Power
1:45 pm
Sat March 26, 2011

NRG Slows Expansion As Feds Review Nuclear Regulations

NRG announced this week it will slow an expansion to add two units to the South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Matagorda County. NRG is waiting to see how federal regulators at the Nuclear Regulator Commission react to the nuclear crisis in Japan.

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Education
3:26 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Round Rock ISD Lays Off 280 Employees

Round Rock ISD is dismissing 280 people, mostly teachers, because it is expecting a $60 million reduction in state funding..
Photo by Forty Two http://www.flickr.com/photos/samxf42/

About 280 employees in the Round Rock Independent School District began learning this afternoon that they will no longer be employed next school year. RRISD is facing an estimated $60 million reduction in state funding.

Districts in Texas are required to notify contracted employees within 45 days of the end of the school year if they are losing their jobs. Austin ISD, the largest school district in Central Texas, has said it is eliminating more than 1,100 positions. RRISD is the second largest district in the region.

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Education
2:34 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

East Austin Charter School Wants To Lease Eastside Memorial High

Southwest Key operates a charter school in East Austin and wants to lease the Eastside Memorial High building to expand its prep academy.
Photo by KUT News

Southwest Key, a national non-profit that operates a charter school in East Austin, is offering to lease Eastside Memorial High School and operate a prep academy in the building. Eastside Memorial currently houses a Global Tech High School and a Green Tech High School.  The Green Tech High was the only school in Austin ISD to be ranked "academically unacceptable" last year by the Texas Education Agency.

"That school has been low-performing for 11 or 12 consecutive years," communications consultant Paul Saldaña told KUT News. Saldaña's firm, Brisa Communications, is advocating on behalf of Southwest Key.

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Arts and Culture
1:09 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Local Arrowheads Poke Holes in History of Man in the Americas

Some of the artifacts discovered at the Buttermilk Creek site.
Image Courtesy of Texas A&M University and Michael R. Waters

It's a find that gives new meaning to the expression, "I'm not from Texas, but I got here as fast as I could."

Researchers have discovered artifacts that could push back the arrival of man in the Lone Star State by over 2,000 years.  The arrowheads, from the Buttermilk Creek excavation site 40 miles north of Austin, are different from the type associated with the Clovis people, once thought to be Texas' earliest human inhabitants.

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Politics
12:58 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Possible Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits

People collecting unemployment benefits, like some at this Texas Workforce Commission office, would be required to submit to drug testing under a bill in the Texas House
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A proposal at the State Capitol would require drug testing for anyone who files an unemployment benefits claim, disqualifying them from benefits if they test positive.  The bill is one in a series filed by Representative Ken Legler (R-Pasadena) to combat what he calls fraud among people collecting benefits.

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Transportation
12:39 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

Google Maps Of Austin's Weekend Street Closures

View Sunday street closures in a larger map

It won't be quite as gridlocked as it was during South by Southwest, but this weekend is filled with events causing road closures in Austin.  In an effort to make it easier for you to understand which streets are closed and when, we've created two Google Maps.  The map above shows street closures on Sunday. The one below shows the street closures on Saturday.

Please zoom in and click on specific closures for more information on the times they are in effect. Red lines indicate full closures. Orange lines indicate partial closures. Blue lines indicate local access only. Green lines show the detour route around the I-35 and Ben White interchange.

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News Brief
5:23 am
Fri March 25, 2011

Top Morning Stories March 25, 2011

Leander City Manager Anthony "Biff" Johnson died Thursday.
Photo courtesy of the City of Leander

Leander City Manager Passes Away

Funeral arrangements are pending for Leander City Manager Anthony "Biff" Johnson.  Officials say he died unexpectedly Thursday afternoon from apparent cardiac arrest. 

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Education
11:05 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Lawmakers Scale Back Education Cuts But AISD Still Troubled

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen speaks to reporters school district financial chief Nicole Conley-Abram stands to the side, ready to answer more technical questions about the $94.4 million budget.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

State Senators writing a spending plan for Texas approved a measure yesterday that would soften the blow to public education.  The initial budget bill called for a cut of almost $10 billion. Senator Florence Shapiro said school districts cannot absorb that punch.

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Politics
4:42 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Senate Finance Committee Eases Budget Cuts

A state senate committee approved a smaller cut in education spending in the new state budget.
Photo by Ryland Barton for KUT News.

The Senate Finance Committee added $5.7 billion to its budget proposal today.  The adjustment was approved with a 13-2 vote.

Just yesterday, the House Appropriations committee $8 billion in education cuts.

In anticipation of the cuts in state support for education, school districts have already begun laying off teachers but legislators are still tinkering with measures that could avoid massive layoffs statewide.

Here’s a rundown of what’s included in the Senate proposal:

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Border
4:14 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Mexico's Security Spokesperson to Speak in Austin

Alejandro Poiré, Mexico's security spokesperson, will discuss his country's strategies for public safety at the LBJ School of Public Affairs Monday.
Photo by Ariel Gutierrez for the Mexican Federal Government, http://flickr.com/photos/30118979@N03/4944508417/

In response to public concerns toward Mexico facing a series of drug-related violence, Mexico’s security spokesperson, is coming to UT to discuss Mexico’s national strategies for public safety.  Alejandro Poiré, will speak at noon Monday at the Bass Lecture Hall of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Poiré will discuss ways Mexico is dealing with ongoing drug-related violence that threatens Americans who live along the border, as well as those who travel to Mexico.

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Politics
12:44 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Testimony Begins on State House Redistricting

Lawmakers are hard a work drawing new State House maps.
Map courtesy Texas Legislative Council

The House Redistricting Committee has begun taking testimony on what the state's new House district map should look like. Based on 2010 Census data it looks like rural West Texas is going to lose representation. While the population growth in South and Central Texas counties means those areas will gain a few seats.

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Politics
12:12 pm
Thu March 24, 2011

Voter ID Clears the Texas House

A bill that would require voters to show ID at the polls is one step closer to the Governor's desk.
Photo by KUT News

After years of Republican attempts and procedural blocks by Democrats, a voter ID bill has passed the Texas House and Senate.  The bill passed the House on 3rd reading today on a 101-48 vote.  Today's debate and vote took just minutes, compared to the 11 hours the House spent debating amendments Wednesday.  The bill now goes back to the Senate.  That chamber can either agree with the House changes to the bill or ask for a conference committee to work out the differences.

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Education
9:39 am
Thu March 24, 2011

Austin ISD Wants Your Answers To The Budget Crisis Tonight

AISD wants public input on how to close its estimated $94 million budget gap without drastically affecting the quality of education at schools like Linder Elementary, pictured above.
Photo by KUT News

School districts across Texas are in the sticky situation of trying to calibrate their spending for the next year without knowing exactly how deeply the state will cut public education. The largest school district in Central Texas, Austin ISD, will hold the first of two public hearings tonight to seek public input on how it should manage a projected $94 million shortfall, even though a large portion of that deficit has already been slashed through the elimination of more than 1,100 jobs.

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News Brief
5:24 am
Thu March 24, 2011

Top Morning Stories March 24, 2011

The Texas House gave preliminary approval Wednesday night to a controversial voter ID bill.
Photo by Kut News

The Texas House Passes Voter ID

After more than 11 hours of debate, the Texas House gave initial approval to a voter ID bill last night.  It would require Texans to show a photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls.  Democrats used a variety of parliamentary procedures to delay the bill but didn't have the votes to stop it.  Democratic lawmakers say it would disenfranchise minority and elderly voters.  Republicans say it would protect the integrity of the voting system by preventing voter fraud. 

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Sports
3:10 pm
Wed March 23, 2011

Davis Cup Tennis, Anyone?

Austin will host a Davis Cup quarterfinal match between the U.S. and Spain this July
Photo courtesy flickr.com/shawnzrossi

Some of the world's greatest men's tennis stars will be in Central Texas this summer as Austin plays host to a Davis Cup quarterfinal match between the U.S. and Spain.

The matches will be held at the Frank Erwin Center the weekend of July 8-10, the weekend after the prestigious Wimbledon tennis championships end.

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