Fri March 4, 2011
Austin School Trustees Receive Final Facilities Plan Monday Night
After a year of meetings and rancorous debate, the Austin ISD school board on Monday night will receive a ten year plan the recommends how it manage its buildings, athletic centers, and other facilities.
The Facility Master Plan Task Force's discussion about how the district could save money by closing and consolidating campuses sparked off a wave of protests, mostly by inner city parents flabbergasted that their high-performing schools would even be mentioned for closure.
The highly educated and politically engaged residents in the upper-middle class neighborhoods affected made enough noise and placed enough phone calls that even Mayor Lee Leffingwell weighed in and urged the school district not to adopt close small neighborhood schools.
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen later held a Saturday afternoon emergency meeting with the volunteer members of the task force, telling them not to concern themselves with trying to find ways of helping to close the district's estimated budget shortfall of $94.4 million.
Members of the task force decided to back of naming specific schools in their report, but still suggested closing one middle school and eight middle schools. The closures would affect schools whose student population within the attendance zone (which excludes transfers) falls below 85 percent.
The report also recommends redrawing school boundaries, a process that has proven to be very controversial in the past because it can displace students from their home schools and force them to attend different campuses.