Kate McGee

Education Reporter

Kate is the education reporter at KUT, covering the Austin Independent School District, public, and higher education in Texas. She got her public radio start at Fordham University's WFUV. Her voice has been heard on the East and West coasts as a reporter and producer for WNYC and KUNR in Reno, Nevada. She has also appeared on NPR's Morning Edition,  All Things Considered, The Takeaway  and more. In her spare time, Kate enjoys discovering new music, traveling and trying local beers. 

Ways to Connect

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Last May, State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock stood on the bustling floor of the Texas House of Representatives in Austin and smiled.

Photo by KUT News

Most of the Austin School Board members want a larger salary increase for teachers than the district recommended. At a meeting Monday night they urged district officials to consider large pay bumps before bringing the budget back to the board for a vote, but that could mean deficits in future budgets.


Charlotte Carpenter / KUT

Donald Trump, Harper Lee, and Spike Lee: Those are just a few of the famous names submitted to the Austin Independent School District as suggestions for the re-naming of Robert E. Lee Elementary.

Update Monday 3 p.m. The Lee Elementary Campus Advisory Council narrowed down the list to 8 names, according to a press release the district sent out Monday afternoon. The names on the list, which will be narrowed down to a final 3 by May 3, are: Barbara Smith Conrad, Bettie Mann (former Lee Elementary teacher of more than 35 years and first African American educator at the school), Elisabet Ney, Harper Lee, former AISD music director Kenneth Ragsdale, Russell Lee, Waller Creek and Wheeler's Grove. The final decision is still scheduled for May 23.

Kate McGee/KUT

Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Hyde Park will get a new name later this spring.

Last night, the Austin School Board voted to start the re-naming process. It’s been a long conversation that has divided members of the community, but the school board ultimately opted to change the name of the school on a vote of 8-0, with one board member abstaining.


Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

UPDATE 10:00 pm: The Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted 8-0 to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary. Trustee Ann Teich abstained from voting.

The district will begin accepting nominations for new names on Tuesday and will present options to the board in May.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Austin School Board could vote tonight to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School. It’s one of four Austin schools named after a Confederate leader. But, it’s the only school community that has mobilized to change the name, and one school board trustee is frustrated with how Austin ISD and the school board are handling the issue.


Jorge Sanhueza Lyon/KUT

The Austin School District owns 10 properties that aren’t schools—and the school board is expected to vote Monday whether it will accept bids to possibly lease, sell or repurpose those pieces of land. That includes the Baker School in Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood, but some residents aren’t happy the land might be up for sale.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

It was probably a staple of your high school experience.

That little oasis where you could go in between classes to collect your books, to freshen up your make up or, maybe, to check to see if your baby mustache is still growing in properly. 

But, it’s an experience that most kids now don’t get the chance to have.  We're talking, of course, about the school locker. 

    

Charlotte Carpenter for KUT News

By the end of this month, the Austin School Board could approve a resolution to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School, and the board will review the resolution Monday night before a final vote next week.


One night two years ago, Terrence Henry (devout KUT listeners will probably remember him) was at home during SXSW when he felt his floorboards start to vibrate.

“I stepped outside, and it sounded like there was a concert happening a couple blocks away. I could hear the bass. I could hear the lyrics," he said. "After a little bit of research, we determined it was Snoop Dogg."

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

Seventh grade was a pivotal year for Violet Jimenez. It’s when she started her first job, working as a clown.

“I did birthday parties for little kids and weddings," Violet says. "One of the jokes we always had is, 'We do birthday parties, we do weddings, we do quinceañeras, we do divorces, we do funerals.'”


Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Austin ISD and local charter school students got a chance to pitch innovative learning projects to a group of judges and experts this week as part of SXSWedu. Winners were awarded money to jumpstart their projects that focus on everything from gaming to equitable water access.


KUT News

A Texas Representative drew criticism today when she said the best way to avoid sexual assault is to stay sober. 


Miguel Guitierrez Jr. for KUT News

Austin public school parents and Northeast Austin residents gathered Thursday night to talk through possibilities for a planned school in the Mueller development. Some support the idea to build a middle school on the land. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

More Austin public high school students could start earning their associate degrees next year. Austin ISD is asking the state for permission to open Early College High School programs at two additional schools this fall.


Photo by KUT News

The University of Texas System has released new guidelines for college police departments to respond to reports of sexual assault. Police, university officials and sexual assault researchers developed the blueprint, which emphasizes the use of current science to help police officers better understand sexual assault survivors.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon for KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is giving more North Austin students an opportunity to take science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses. AISD unveiled Tuesday the Applied Technology Center at Anderson High School, and high school students from across North Austin will have access to the facility.

The new center has different rooms where students can take engineering, manufacturing and computer science classes. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Louis Ortiz sits at a table in the Eastside Memorial High School cafeteria in a crisp white shirt. Ortiz isn't a student, though. He's the district's new executive chef, and he's trying to spice up the district's lunch menu by adding new ethnic foods and more local fruits and vegetables from Johnson's Backyard Garden. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

There are ten acres of land set aside for a school in Northeast Austin’s Mueller neighborhood. But what if the Austin public school district did more than just build a school? That's what residents were asked to consider at a community meeting at Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy this weekend. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

There’s a relatively new neighborhood in Northeast Austin with new homes and new businesses. Someday there may even be a school there. It’s built on land that used to be Austin’s airport – named after a city council member from the 1920s.

Those facts are clear.

What's not so clear is how to properly say the neighborhood’s name.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

As the Austin school district considers whether to build a school at the Mueller development, it’s reaching out to the public for ideas. The district is holding the first of two public meetings this week, but some in the community wonder whether the plan will result in a district-run public school or a charter school.


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