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

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: The Federal Emergency Management Agency is refusing to provide money to help rebuild the town of West after April’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion.

FEMA has approved more than $7 million in aid and loans to West residents impacted by the blast, but has denied assistance for things like crisis counseling, legal services, and unemployment assistance.  

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

For at least fifty years, the Austin Independent School District has used portable classrooms as a way to relieve overcrowding. Yesterday, KUT reported more than half of the nearly 650 portables are over 25 years old – some are more than 50 years old. Many teachers and parents say portables conditions are poor.

But what – if anything – can the school district can do about it? 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

This past school year, more than 86,000 students in the Austin Independent School District woke up and went to class each day. For a growing number of those children, their learning is happening inside portable classrooms. 

AISD has almost 650 portable classrooms. The district bought most of them in the 1980's and 1990's. But dozens were purchased before that – some as early as 1952. Many teachers and parents say time is taking its toll on what was supposed to be a temporary solution to deal with overcrowding. 

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Today is the first day of summer vacation, as the public school year came to a close yesterday in Austin. For students at IDEA Allan Elementary School, a charter school run by IDEA Public Schools, it was the last day of school at that campus. They’ll be leaving behind an empty building and taking with them millions of dollars of future district revenue.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The state's top education official has approved a plan by Austin Independent School District that will allow Eastside Memorial High School to remain open. The campus had faced closure after years of failing to meet the state's academic benchmarks and after the Austin school board voted to discontinue a contract it had with the South Texas-based charter school operator IDEA that aimed to reverse sagging outcomes. 

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams made the announcement Wednesday evening at a commencement ceremony for the 129 graduating seniors at Eastside Memorial.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

District Court Judge John Dietz said this morning he will hold a hearing to consider reopening the  Texas School Finance case to weigh the impacts of  changes made to education during the most recent legislative session. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

AISD says it will likely not grant health benefits to domestic partners of employees. The school district will wait until a federal court decides on the issue.

This is after AISD announced in March it would extend health benefits to domestic partners, which includes same sex and unmarried couples.

KUT News

AISD's Chief Finance Officer, Nicole Conley, presented a revised proposed $879 million  budget for the next fiscal year Monday night.

She said although Texas public schools may be getting $3.9 billion dollars restored from the $5.4 billion state lawmakers cut in 2011, AISD isn’t expecting much of a benefit locally from the partial funding restoration. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night for the elementary and middle schools that feed into Eastside Memorial High.

Eastside hasn’t been meeting academic standards and could be shut down. In an effort to keep it open, the board approved a partnership with Johns Hopkins last month.  But that program’s plan didn’t include an outline of what should happen at feeder schools.

Kate McGee, KUT News

More than 100 Austin parents, teachers and community members gathered at Mendez Middle School Saturday for an immigration forum sponsored by the teachers union, Education Austin. Advocacy groups and organizations provided information to undocumented immigrants about a pathway to citizenship and the latest on immigration reform.

It's a process that advocates say can stress out many parents. But it can be a stressor on children as well.


LGBT Pride Month begins June 1. While many situations are unique to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience, you many think aging is not. But there are increased risks for LGBT seniors. 

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

State Sen. Kel Seliger has re-filed a bill in the special session allowing state universities to issue Tuition Revenue Bonds for capital projects.

However, lawmakers wouldn't be able to take up the issue unless Gov. Rick Perry adds it to the list of  topics for the special session.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

Over a thousand Central Texans gathered on Monday to honor local men and women who lost their lives in service to the U.S. at the Georgetown-Williamson County Veterans Memorial in the Sun City Community Center.

At the memorial, the Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division Band played for residents and veterans, with Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III attending the ceremony as a special guest.


House and Senate members exchanged high fives and congratulations Sunday night, as they approved  conference committee reports on two bills impacting public education across Texas.

One bill increases the cap on charter schools, while the other reduces the number of end-of-course exams in public high schools.

Both bills are now heading to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for his signature.


The recent tornado in Oklahoma and the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last year have increased people’s awareness of emergency management at schools. 

At the University of Texas’s Police Building, the Emergency Operation Center is quiet right now. But David Cronk, UT’s Emergency Preparedness director, says when there’s a threat or major event, the room can get pretty crowded.

Rune Mathisen, Texas Tribune

Students should be getting 60 minutes a day of physical activity, according to a new report from the Institute of Medicine. That exercise could happen before, during or after school.

The study also recommends the U.S. Department of Education declare physical education a core subject.

Bill Kohl, who led the committee that wrote the report, says physical activity improves learning in the classroom.

View Larger Map

Update: The lockdown at Webb Middle and primary schools has been lifted, according to AISD officials. Schools will resume a regular schedule. APD was not immediately available to confirm whether or not the suspect has been apprehended.

Original Story (12:18 p.m.): Webb Middle and primary schools are on lock down as Austin Police search for a possibly armed suspect in the St. Johns/I-35 area, according to Austin Independent School District.

The man is suspected to be connected to a woman who tried to cash a forged check this morning on the 6400 block of US-290.

KUT News

Preliminary standardized test scores for this school year show improvements in multiple subjects at Eastside Memorial High School – a school that has had a history of failure going back nearly a decade.

According to unofficial data presented to Eastside Memorial teachers this week, 90 percent of students passed the TAKS end of year exam in English and Language Arts. That’s a nearly 20 percent jump from last year. 

Juan Carlos/Flickr

Middle and elementary school students craving a Coke during the school day may be in trouble.

A bill that would ban the sale of sugary drinks in Texas middle and elementary schools is heading to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for final approval.

KUT News

The Austin School Board Monday night approved a contract with Johns Hopkins University to implement its program — Talent Development Secondary — at Eastside Memorial High School. The decision comes after AISD canceled a contract with a charter school company to run an elementary school that fed into the high school.

The contract now goes to the Texas Education Commissioner for final approval. Although the vote was unanimous, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen questioned if the commissioner would approve the contract.