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, where she got her bachelor's degree in American Studies and History. 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. 

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Education
6:30 am
Tue April 30, 2013

Should AISD Hold the Bond Package Election in May?

Early voting started Monday for AISD's $892 million bond package.
flickr.com/whiteafrican

Early voting is underway for the $892 million bond proposal from the Austin Independent School District. The district decided to hold the election in May – as it usually does. But now, the Austin City Council decided to move its general elections from May to November. 

With turnout expected to be extremely low, will AISD continue to keep its elections in May?

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Education
12:40 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

AISD Bonds: Money Aims to Relieve Overcrowding

Early voting begins Monday for the $892 million bond proposal from AISD.
KUT News
  • As heard on KUT, 90.5 FM

Early voting for the Austin Independent School District $892 million bond begins Monday. The bond is split into four propositions, based on a variety of projects from systemic repairs to improvements to relieve overcrowding. 

AISD says enrollment has grown by about 1,000 students per year, two to three times faster than the state average. The district is hoping to relieve some of the overcrowding that's come with that growth. Prop 2 would borrow $234 million to do that. Some of it goes toward school security, but most of the money is earmarked for expanding existing schools and building new ones. 

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Education
6:35 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

AISD Bond Language Comes Under Fire From Taxpayer Group

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarpehn. The district's bond proposition ballot language is drawing criticism from the Travis County Taxpayers Union.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

An effort to derail the Austin school district’s bond election was unsuccessful Friday.

A Travis County Court judge refused a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the vote. The order was sought by the Travis County Taxpayer Union. The group contends the official ballot language doesn’t say anything about how much each proposition would cost voters. 

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Education
7:30 am
Fri April 26, 2013

'EducaAustin' Radio Show Reaches Out to Hispanic AISD Parents

AISD Spokesman Alex Sanchez. Every Sunday he hosts EducaAustin, a radio show aimed at Hispanic parents in the district.
Kate McGee, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is hosting a Spanish-language radio show aimed at Hispanic parents in the district.

Sixty percent of students in the Austin school district are Hispanic. And more than half of those students are English language learners with parents who do not speak English or are also learning the language.

That can make it difficult for some parents to stay involved in their children’s education, and AISD is trying to bridge that gap with La Que Buena, 104.3-FM.

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Education
12:22 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

AISD Bonds: Prop 2 Earmarks Money for School Security

Prop 2 puts $23 million towards security, including more cameras and alarm systems.
Flickr user TylerMcQuarrie, bit.ly/15K08Z2

Since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, school districts across the country are focusing on security. The Austin Independent School District is asking its voters whether it can use some of its $892 million proposed bond package to improve school security.

At $233 million, Proposition Two is the largest of the propositions in the bond package. $23 million of those funds would go toward a variety of security improvements district wide. The largest would be to replace the district’s 20 year-old radio system.

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Education
11:36 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Lawsuit Seeks to Stop AISD Bond Election

The Travis County Taxpayers Union filed a lawsuit against AISD $892M bond package ballot question.
KUT News

The Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Austin Independent School District over its $892 million bond package residents will vote on in a special election May 11. The district says the bond would be used to pay for a variety of capital projects to ease overcrowding, improve technology, security and other systemic repairs.

The TCTU says AISD failed to include in the ballot language the maximum property tax rate levied on residents or if the tax rate is unlimited.

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Education
8:05 am
Wed April 24, 2013

AISD Projects $45 Million Shortfall in 2014 Budget

AISD says the district is considered 'property rich' and that's part of the reason for the budget shortfall.
flickr.com/namoscato

The Austin Independent School District is estimating it will have a $45 million shortfall in its 2014 budget. The district is holding a community meeting tonight to discuss spending priorities.

AISD officials say there are a few reasons for the projected budget shortfall. Most of the deficit is money that will be taken or “recaptured” from AISD – a district considered property rich. That money is then distributed to districts that are considered poorer.

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Education
8:03 am
Tue April 23, 2013

AISD Moves Forward With Partners for Eastside High – But Makes Plans For Possible Closure

Texas Education Commission Michael Williams visits Eastside Memorial High School. He'll decide what happens to the school.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Education Commissioner has until June to decide if Eastside Memorial High School in Austin will be shut down for poor academic progress.

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night that will guide their steps in case the school is closed. But AISD hopes instead the district will be allowed to partner with an outside group to run the high school.

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Texas
12:24 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Photos: West, Texas Comes Together for a Candlelight Vigil

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

St Mary’s Church in West, Texas was packed with hundreds of residents grieving for those who were injured or killed by the explosion Wednesday evening.

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Education
4:01 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

AISD to Talk Bond Proposal Tonight at Community Meeting

Bowie High school, where AISD is holding the first of three community meetings about the 2013 bond package Wednesday evening.
Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is hosting a community meeting tonight on its 2014 budget and its $892 million bond proposal that's up for a vote next month. 

AISD wants to issue bonds to fund capital projects throughout the district. The money wouldn’t be used for day-to-day expenses, but for things like technology upgrades, more classrooms and increased security.

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2013 Legislative Sesssion
4:40 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

New Rules for Abortion Doctors Heads to Senate Floor (Update)

An anti-abortion rally at the Texas Capitol. A bill being heard today requires doctors who perform abortions to have privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: A bill requiring abortion providers to have the ability to admit patients at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic now moves to the Senate floor.

Supporters say the bill would ensure patients have access to care if there is a complication or emergency during or after the abortion. 

“If an abortionist is not competent to obtain hospital privileges, then he is not competent to doing abortions," said Mary Lynn Gerstenschlager with the conservative Texas Eagle Forum.

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Education
3:19 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Eastside Memorial Students Plea to Keep School Open

One of the students featured in the Eastside Memorial video.
YouTube

A video posted on You Tube is pleading with state officials not to close Eastside Memorial High School.

The school is at risk of closure or state takeover if the Austin Independent School District does not choose an acceptable outside partner to run the school and improve the school's performance. 

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Education
6:02 am
Tue April 16, 2013

Teachers Groups Raise Concerns About Charter School Bill

A bill to expand the number of charter schools in the state is drawing criticism from teachers organizations in Texas.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Listen to the story as it aired on KUT 90.5.

Some teachers organizations are lobbying Texas House members to stop the progress of Senate Bill 2, a bill that would expand the number of charter school licenses in Texas.  

SB-2 would gradually add 90 charter school licenses in Texas by the year 2019.  

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University of Texas
4:45 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

UT Regents Backtrack on Open Records, Investigation (Update)

UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell, r, convenes the meeting with Chancellor Dr. Francisco Cigarroa on April 11, 2013.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Update: The UT Board of Regents' decision to release public documents to the Texas legislature didn't stop the state Senate from passing a bill that would limit the board's authority and require new regents to complete an ethics training course. The Senate passed the bill today. It now heads to the House for a vote.

Original Story (1:45 p.m.): The UT System Board of Regents voted Thursday to release all records requested by state lawmakers and ask the state Attorney General to conduct an investigation into the relationship between the UT Law School and the Law School Foundation

Last week, regents had considered withholding documents from the legislature. Regent James Dannenbaum says that was a miscommunication.

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Education
4:32 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Education Committee Clarifies Voucher Bill, Sends to Full Senate

Sen. Dan Patrick, who wrote SB 23. It now heads to the full Senate for a possible floor debate.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Senate Education Committee Thursday approved a bill from Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, that creates a scholarship fund to help low-income students leave failing schools and attend private or religiously-affiliated schools.

The bill offers a 15 percent tax credit to businesses that donate money to the scholarship fund.

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Education
11:01 am
Thu April 11, 2013

AISD: Mainly Out-of-State Proposals for Eastside Memorial

AISD received five proposals for the future of Eastside Memorial High School.
KUT News

The Austin Independent School District has received five proposals from outside partners to lead the school improvement plan at Eastside Memorial High School, most of which are from organizations outside Texas.

The five companies include John Hopkins University, Turnaround Solutions Inc., Editure Professional Development, American Institutes for Research, and a local company, Southwest Key Programs, Inc.

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Education
6:52 am
Thu April 11, 2013

UT Regents to Hold Special Meeting Thursday (Update)

The UT Board of Regents could vote Thursday on a variety of issues regarding the board's power and relationship with Texas lawmakers.
Daniel Reese for KUT News

Update: UT's Board of Regents is scheduled to meet this morning to consider whether to release investigative records to the Texas Legislature.

Texas lawmakers have been requesting the release of emails and other documents in a public standoff raising tension between the Capitol and the regents. 

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Education
5:11 am
Thu April 11, 2013

After IDEA, an Unknown Future for East Austin’s Allan Elementary (Updated)

Allan Elementary could be empty this school year after AISD ended its contract with IDEA, the charter school that ran Allan.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: IDEA public schools says in the fall it will open its charter school—currently operated at Allan elementary—at The Church in Austin, located at 220 Foremost Dr. IDEA had to find a new location after the Austin Independent School District terminated its contract with the charter program in December.

The decision to break the agreement with IDEA could result in an empty Allan Elementary building this fall. There are some short and long term options for the school building, but mostly a lot of unknowns. 

Original Story (April 10, 2013, 7:41 p.m.): Last spring, the Austin Independent School District contracted with a charter school – IDEA Public Schools  – to run Allan Elementary. 

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Education
3:25 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

AISD Map Breaks Down Bond Package Money by School

AISD has created an interactive map detailing where the $892M bond package will go.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin School District's 2013 bond proposal is a $892 million package consisting of four bond propositions. The projects range from more security and technology in schools and basic repairs to the construction of new schools and additional classrooms. 

AISD has created an interactive map breaking down how much money and what projects are proposed for a majority of schools in the district. 

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