As far as school board meetings go, tonight's should be among the most exciting of the year. Trustees are set to vote on a roster of plans that could bring significant changes to the school district in 2012-13. Here’s a quick guide to the evening:
Rally against IDEA Public Schools: Before the meeting starts, parents opposed to an in-district charter school proposal being voted on tonight will stage an hour-long march, followed by a protest at AISD headquarters. You can find more about their position on the IDEA Public School contract on their Facebook page.
Citizen Communication: Expect parents and teachers to dominate this public comment period of the AISD meeting. It will be the first order of business for the board, after trustees say the pledge of allegiance with kids from Barbara Jordan Elementary School and recognize some schools for their academic performance on standardized state tests. Up to 30 people can speak for a maximum two minutes each.
Transfer Freezes: Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will announce which schools will be frozen to transfers for the 2012-13 school year. Schools that will be frozen to general transfers are: Akins, Anderson, Austin, Bowie and McCallum High Schools; Kealing, Murchison and O. Henry Middle Schools; Andrews, Baldwin, Baranoff, Barrington, Blazier, Bryker Woods (except K, 5, 6), Casis, Cook, Doss, Graham, Harris, Hart, Hill, Kiker, Langford, Lee, Odom, Patton, Perez, Pickle, Pillow, Ridgetop, Rodriguez, Walnut Creek and Wooldridge Elementary Schools. Several more schools will be monitored and possibly frozen to transfers next school year. (Update at 10:11 p.m. A district staffer wanted to clarify that these schools are not yet frozen to priority transfers, but general transfers only.)
Bids for Baker and Carruth Administrative Buildings: Earlier this year, under financial and political pressure, the Austin ISD said it would be accepting bids on two administrative buildings located in desirable parts of town. The Carruth Center is located downtown on West Sixth Street. The Baker Building is located in Hyde Park. Superintendent Carstarphen will recommend that the board not accept bids for either building.
The Main Event: A list of sweeping proposals will be voted on by school board members, including the aforementioned recommendation to contract with IDEA Public Schools. The proposals are called “Annual Academic Facilities Recommendations” or AAFRs. Here they are, with links to the background documents:
- Expand dual language programs to four more schools, including three Spanish programs and one Chinese Mandarin program.
- Overhaul the district’s two disciplinary schools to reduce the number of kids sent there.
- Designate money from the 2008 bond election to building a new elementary school in North Central Austin.
- Address overcrowding in North Central Austin elementary schools by moving sixth graders to their respective middle schools and creating a Pre-K center at Dobie Middle School.
- Contract with charter school operator Responsive Education Solutions to run an in-district charter targeting high school dropouts.
- Contract with charter school operator IDEA Public Schools to run an in-district college prep program targeting children in East Austin.
Where to Watch: The 7 pm meeting is open to the public at 1111 West Sixth Street, but it might be a bit crowded. You can also watch on Time Warner Channel or Grande Communications channel 22, ATT U-verse channel 99 or just stream it online. And make sure to follow Twitter hashtag #AISD to join the conversation.