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. 

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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

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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Education
11:13 am
Tue April 9, 2013

AISD Teacher Accused of Aggravated Sexual Assault (Update)

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update:  Austin school district police say John Joseph Vasquez, a Blazier Elementary school teacher, was arrested Monday for alleged aggravated sexual assault and improper relationship between an educator and a student.

On April 1, the parent of a former AISD student contacted district police alleging the student had been assaulted as a first grader from January to March of 2011. District police conducted a forensic interview with the child, who did not wish to be identified. Police also conducted a short interview with the suspect. District Police Chief Eric Mendez says there may have been multiple incidences, but the investigation is still ongoing. Mendez says there is no reason to believe there are other victims. 

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Business
4:03 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz Discusses Business with Austin Chamber (Update)

Senator Ted Cruz spoke to the Austin Chamber of Commerce today.
KUT News

Update: U.S. Senator Ted Cruz says he's not giving up his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Cruz spoke at a sold out luncheon hosted by the Austin Chamber of Commerce Friday. Topics ranged from  healthcare reform and the economy to Cruz's cowboy boots and reputation as a "bomb thrower."

Cruz deflected the question about his "bomb throwing" reputation and instead touted his ability to follow through on campaign promises and get things done in Washington. 

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Education
4:28 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Senate Education Committee Approves Bill to Pay for Firearms Training in Schools (Update)

Texas lawmakers Thursday will discuss two bills concerning school security.
KUT News

Update: The Senate Education Committee approved a bill Thursday that would pay to train teachers and employees who carry weapons on school property.

There’s a new push for a cap on the cost for the training, but now it looks like even that would be more than enough.

The bill would rely mainly on private donations. If there’s not enough private funding, the state would allocate one million. Senator Dan Patrick (R- Harris County) is sponsoring the bill. He says out a the entire state budget, one million for security is worth it. 

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Education
5:30 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Texas Students Must Pass STAAR Exams to Move to Next Grade

TEA Commissioner Michael Williams says there is enough money to tutor those who don't pass the STAAR exam.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Texas students taking the STAAR test this week will have to pass in order to advance to the next grade.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams says there is enough money in the preliminary state budget to provide tutoring to fifth and eighth graders who fail the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness. 

Right now, state lawmakers have allocated $41 million over the next two years for the Student Success Initiative. SSI provides money to school districts to tutor students who cannot pass the STAAR reading or math tests. 

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Education
10:39 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Why Did AISD Shut Off its TV, Web Feed Halfway Through Monday's Meeting?

AISD's policy to broadcast meetings, but not dialogues drew some criticism on Twitter Monday
KUT News

Community members watching the Austin School Board’s meeting online or on television Monday may have been confused when the district turned off its feed half way during its special meeting.

The reason, AISD says, is because the meeting transitioned from a Board Meeting to a Board Dialogue. According to the school district, its policy is to broadcast board meetings, but not dialogue sessions.

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