Austin
8:52 am
Tue February 28, 2012

AM Update: Another Redistricting Deadline, STAAR Rule Deferred, Weekend Rail on the Way?

Redistricting Maps Must be Drawn By Saturday for May Primaries

According to the Texas Tribune, if redistricting maps are not drawn by Saturday, March 3 then primaries will move to June.

The Tribune reports that the primaries cannot be held on May 29 if the deadline is not met this weekend. Instead, the date will yet again be pushed back, this time to June 26.

“The lawyers working on House maps have been pushing back and forth, primarily on three districts, and haven't produced an accord. And congressional maps, several lawyers have said, will have to be drawn by the three federal judges in San Antonio, because the parties can't seem to find common ground."

If the primaries are held in late May or June, the primary runoffs will be delayed to July 31 or August 28 reports the Tribune.

KUT News' Andy Uhler sheds some light on the court's long battle over the redistricting maps.

STAAR Tests 15 Percent Rule Deferred for a Year

Last night the Austin ISD Board of Trustees voted to delay implementation of a controversial new testing measure until the next school year.

The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR), a new standardized test for Texas students, initially contained a “15 percent rule” that scores would count for 15 percent of a student’s final grade point average (GPA).

KUT’s Nathan Bernier reports that Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott waived the proposed rule for a year after feeling concern from parents, superintendents and state lawmakers. Traditionally standardized tests have never counted toward a student’s final grade, says one concerned parent.

Those who oppose the rule hope it will be permanently waived in the state’s next legislative session.

Weekend Rail Service Moves Forward

Last night the Capital Metro board approved a deal with the City of Austin to provide weekend rail service. The Austin-American Statesman reports the city would pay up to $5.5 million for 34 months of Friday night and Saturday train service.

Under the agreement, trains would run hourly starting at 7 p.m. Friday and ending at midnight. On Saturdays, trains would run every 35 minutes from 4 p.m. to midnight.

The Austin City Council, which holds final approval over the agreement, is scheduled to consider the same agreement at its Thursday meeting.