Austin
10:46 am
Fri February 10, 2012

KUT News Roundup: Rolling Blackouts for Texas, Drought Examples to Follow, a Mortgage Cash Payout

It's Friday, so here’s an end-of-the-week look at what we’ve been following: News from KUT.org, our reporting partner StateImpact Texas, and our friends at the Texas Tribune:

AISD Teachers Weigh Options with In-District Charter (KUT News):

"A charter school operator from South Texas is moving into East Austin’s Allan Elementary School next school year. It’s the first step in a multiyear strategy that Austin ISD hopes will reverse years of academic setbacks. But for some teachers, it’s a cue to leave their campus.

“I do not want to be a part of what they’re bringing to our community, and it’s still not what I think is best for kids,” Allan Elementary bilingual education teacher Constanza Serna said.

Austin ISD’s first ever in-district charter school program starts next year and will be run by IDEA Public Schools from South Texas. Alejandro Delgado – a graduate of Bowie High in Austin – will be the first vice principal of the renamed IDEA Allan campus.

State Could Face Rolling Blackouts (KUT News):

Texas electric grid officials gave a bleak assessment of the state’s power capacity yesterday.  From KUT's Mose Buchele, reporting for StateImpact Texas:

State lawmakers heard from industry representatives about power supply, costs and conservation as they prepare for what’s supposed to be another hot, dry summer. Trip Doggett, president of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the state needs to conserve more, or else face the possibility of rolling blackouts.

“If we were to experience an identical summer to last summer, we would still have a very tight summer,” Doggett said.

UT Regents Revamp Professor Review Process (Texas Tribune):

Employee criminal background checks, post-tenure faculty reviews, and $10 million for matching donations to the Texas Research Initiative Program were approved at today’s meeting of the University of Texas Board of Regents.

The new system rules, which are effective immediately, are two tenets of Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s framework for the system’s future, which was unanimously approved last August.  

... Tenured UT System faculty members will receive two kinds of reviews: yearly reviews and “comprehensive reviews” that will occur at least every six years. In their annual reviews, professors will get one of four ratings: Exceeds Expectation, Meets Expectation, Does Not Meet Expectation and Unsatisfactory. The results of professors’ reviews will be communicated to their department chair, the chief academic officer and the president for review and any appropriate action.

Living with Drought and Thirst: Examples for Texas to Follow (StateImpact Texas):

The State Comptroller’s office released a report on the economic impact of the current drought this week. The paper is short (just 12 pages), highly readable, and even has some nice visual breakdowns ofthe drought. I highly recommend taking some time to read it.

Water demand in Texas is expected to rise 22 percent by 2060, according to the state’s Water Development Board. They say if we have another drought like the one of record from the 1950s, losses could total $116 billion by then.

One part of the report worth noting doesn’t come until the end, and that’s what can Texas learn from other places that have had to deal with growing populations, less water, and persistent drought. Let’s take a look.

Texas in Line for Big Chunk of Mortgage Cash (KUT News):

Texas stands to get more than $400 million from thehuge nationwide settlement with major banks announced today.

The settlement is aimed at punishing banks for abusive foreclosure practices and helping distressed homeowners restructure their mortgages.

Almost $300 million will go to Texas homeowners to help refinance troubled mortgages or to compensate victims of abusive foreclosure practices.

Medical Board Revisits Stem Cell Rules (KUT News/Texas Tribune):

The Texas Medical Board is set to take another look at proposed rules for the use of adult stem cell therapy.

Those guidelines have already undergone plenty of revisions since they were first released last summer. Maybe the most famous case of this kind of therapy being used in Texas recently was last summer, when Governor Rick Perry had a doctor in Houston inject some of his own stem cells into his back after spinal surgery.