Austin
8:21 am
Mon February 27, 2012

AM Update: AISD Budget Talks, Health Reform Hits Texas House, Advances in Nerve Repair

Austin ISD's Preliminary Budget for 2012-2013

At tonight's Austin ISD School Board meeting, administrators will present a 2012-13 preliminary budget that increases spending slightly while assuming the district will lose $8.7 million in federal money and $53.6 million in state funding. The Austin-American Statesman reports:

The preliminary $724 million spending plan increases expenses 2.9 percent over the current budget and holds the property tax rate steady at $1.242 per $100 of valuation. It includes $14.2 million for an across-the-board 3 percent pay raise and $1.1 million to jump start an early childhood center at Linder Elementary School in Southeast Austin, among other goals. To hit those targets, budget officials say the district plans to dip into reserves for $32.5 million.

Austin ISD will present a revised budget on April 16th and a public hearing is scheduled for April 23rd. The board will vote on the budget on June 18th.

Tonight's school board meeting is at 7 p.m. at the district headquarters, 1111 West Sixth St.

Health Reform Hits Texas House

The House Public Health and Insurance committees will hear testimony this morning on the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010.

Also on the agenda is the consideration of any changes that may occur from continuing litigation, legislative changes to the act, or repeal.

This morning's meeting will be at 10:30 at the State Capitol.

Advances in Nerve Repair

A group of scientists, including UT neurobiology professor Dr. George Bittner, say they can speed up nerve injury recovery through a new technique that reconnects the severed ends of a nerve. Dr. Bittner is co-author of a study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

NPR reports on how the process works

First they expose the severed nerve. Then they use chemical compounds to reverse a process that normally seals the nerve ends shut. At that point, they draw the two nerve ends together with tiny sutures and apply more chemicals that cause the nerve ends to fuse. 

The technique can be done entirely with chemicals that are already approved for use in people, Bittner says. And it produced very good results in a study of rats that had their sciatic nerve cut, he says.

Dr. Bittner’s research has been supported by the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation in Austin.