How do you feel about the Austin school district’s proposal to open in-district charter schools in East Austin? What about reassigning North Central Austin sixth graders to their respective middle schools? Or expanding two-way dual language programs to four more schools?
If you have answers to any of those questions, the Austin Independent School District says it wants to hear from you tonight at a public hearing on its Facilities Master Plan.
A framework for the plan was adopted by the board last Monday. The Facility Master Plan creates a process for the school board to make major decisions about the district’s 12 million square feet of classrooms, office space, athletic facilities and other property.
Now that the framework has been adopted, the board wants input on some of the specific items up for consideration. In the bureaucratic-speak of AISD, the items up for immediate consideration are being called “Annual Academic Facilities Recommendations” or AAFRs. They are up for a vote on Monday, December 12.
Perhaps the largest and most significant of the AAFRs is a suggestion to partner with IDEA Public Schools, a charter school district founded in the Rio Grande Valley 11 years ago. IDEA claims to excel at educating disadvantaged youth, such as those from lower income families or those who don’t speak English as a first language. But IDEA is not without its skeptics, including former University of Texas education researcher Ed Fuller and some parents and teachers.
Even some Eastside Memorial students are wary of a charter school program moving onto their campus. "Why not give the school a year or two where you allow it to flourish on its own instead of constantly messing with it?” Eastside junior Marcos Montoya told the Austin American-Statesman. He’s concerned that the robotics program, which got him interested in learning and helped lift his grade-point average from below 1.0 to above 3.0, might be eliminated.
Tonight’s meeting is at the board auditorium inside AISD headquarters at 1111 W. 6th Street. Speakers can sign up at 5 p.m. and the hearing runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Speakers will get two minutes each to express their thoughts, feelings or reservations.