After the Austin Independent School District’s last attempt at adopting a ten year master plan for its 12 million square feet of property was derailed in the spring, the AISD school board is scheduled tonight to hear some of the most specific proposals yet from Superintendent Meria Carstarphen on how to address issues such as overcrowding.
You can see the slides for tonight’s presentation here. Carstarphen will be less focused on drafting a long-term facilities plan at this evening's meeting; instead she will asking for the school board’s guidance on several short-term proposals.
The most immediate proposals for next school year include:
- Designating money from the 2008 bond program to build a new elementary school in North Central Austin. (Note: A previous version of this story had erroneously said the plan was to build a new middle school. We regret the error)
- Expanding two-way dual language programs to four more schools. Three would be English-Spanish (Blanton, Casey, and Galindo Elementary Schools) and one would be English-Chinese or English-Korean (Doss Elementary School)
- Creating an in-district charter school focused on college prep
- Overhauling the district’s two disciplinary schools: the Alternative Learning Center and Alternative Center for Elementary Students
Two ideas that could be implemented in 2012-13 after “additional vetting” include:
- Creating two single-gender middle schools serving 650 boys and 650 girls in grades 6 through 8. The new schools’ attendance zones would be created by combining Pearce and Garcia Middle Schools’ attendance zones into one.
- A so-called “Graduation Pathways Education Program” aimed at preventing drop outs and helping students catch up on high school. The program could be established at up to four locations across the district.
Carstarphen believes if those changes are implemented, it could clear the path to assign all sixth graders at north central elementary schools to their feeder middle schools. For example, sixth graders at Barrington and Brown would attend Webb Middle School.
The district hopes these objectives would not only help relieve overcrowding at north central schools, but also would help improve academic outcomes at some of its struggling campuses.
However, many parents and students are tired of change and suspicious of the district, after the last facilities master plan called for closing several schools based on questionable facilities data.
"Every year you're doing something different,” 17-year-old Eddie Perez said Thursday during a presentation by the district, according to the Austin-American Statesman. “If you choose one of those plans and it doesn't work, then in 2015-16, are you going to have another plan for the school? Are you going to do that yearly? Are you actually thinking about us?"
Separately, school board members are scheduled to vote on a resolution tonight to join a lawsuit against the state over school funding. The suit is being fought by veteran school finance lawyer David Thompson. Here’s the letter requesting AISD involvement.