AISD

Austin ISD
12:17 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Single Sex Schools Breathe New Life into Failing East Austin Middle Schools

Principal Savina at the all-girls school says she still believes her school will provide female students with a better experience.
Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Seventh graders are gathered in the cafeteria of the Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy. They’re all dressed in white button down shirts and khaki pants. In their hands, they hold silver ties—which they are learning how to tie by themselves.

"Put it through the front hole and pull it down," instructs counselor, Sabrina Brown. "Okay. And start fixing it. Oh, there you go! Pull it, pull it!”

“This is so weird," says seventh grader Martin Gonzales. "I look like I’m going to work!”

Gonzales moved to Austin this summer and says he enrolled at Gus Garcia because his brother wanted to attend.

“But now that I’m here, it’s pretty cool," he says, despite the fact that it's all boys. "It’s pretty weird. I’m not used to it. Regularly my teachers call me a ladies man.”

Well, that won't matter as much at this school.

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AISD Budget
10:34 am
Wed August 27, 2014

AISD Passes 2015 Budget, Approves Pay Increase for Teachers & Employees

The Austin Independent School District board meeting on June 16, 2014.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Last night, the Austin Independent School District board approved a 2015 budget of over $1 billion, which includes pay increases for teachers and employees.

However, those increases are a one-time deal due to the so-called "recapture program" in the state's school finance laws, which will require a reallocation of $175 million in Travis County property taxes this year.

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Education
4:21 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Paul Cruz on Back-To-School, Budgets & the Future of Austin Schools

Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz says the district's decision to redraw school boundaries will be controversial among some parents, but they will have an input in the process.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

As the school year starts anew for Texas public schools, the Austin Independent School District is preparing for a year of changes.

In November, as many as five new school board members will be elected, a replacement superintendent will be hired in the wake of Meria Carstarphen’s departure and the district could face more, or less, funding after the legislature convenes in January.

The district’s interim superintendent Paul Cruz spoke with KUT about the difficulties facing Austin students, parents and educators as bells ring in the new academic year.

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Austin ISD
10:50 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Here's Why Austin ISD Won't Keep All the Tax Money It Collects

Under the current school finance system, property wealthy school districts must return some of their local property taxes to the state under what's called recapture. Next week, a judge is expected to rule whether the system is constitutional.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

Within the next couple weeks, an Austin judge is expected to rule whether the state’s school finance system is constitutional. Meanwhile, Austin Independent School District officials are worried about how much money the district will have to educate students next year—and five years down the road. 

The reasons for that go back to something called “recapture," a process that means some school districts don’t get to keep all the money they collect. And it's extremely complicated.

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2014 Elections
12:58 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Long Hours & No Pay Make School Board Hopefuls a Rare Find in Election Season

Candidates for the Austin School Board face long hours and late-night meetings.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Eighteen candidates are running for the five open seats on the Austin School Board this fall, which is nearly double the average number of people who have run for the school board in every election since 2002.

But, compared to the 78 candidates who have filed to run for the city council and the mayoral races this fall, the Austin school board doesn’t seem like the most popular place to spend your free time.   

That’s because being an Austin School Board Trustee isn’t easy.

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Austin School Board
7:27 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

As School Board Elections Loom, Some Candidates Are Still Absent

Only seven candidates of the nine seats on the Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees have applied ahead of the filing deadline on Aug. 18.
KUT News

Update: One candidate has filed to run for the AISD School Board in District One. David "D" Thompson filed with the district Wednesday. Scroll down for a full list of the filed candidates.

Original Story (10:01 a.m.): For students in Austin schools, deadlines for homework or class projects are usually accompanied with an appropriate level of last-minute scrambling.

But, for would-be candidates vying for open seats on the Austin Independent School District’s school board, Monday’s filing deadline isn’t inspiring the same level of frenzy typically associated with school-related deadlines.

Only seven potential candidates have thrown their hat into the ring since the elections opened up on July 18, but the late-filings aren’t anything new to the campaigns for Board of Trustee races.

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AISD
8:31 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Austin Schools Begin Pre-K Enrollment, Roll-Out Pilot Programs for 3-Year-Olds

Austin parents can now enroll 4-year-olds in pre-K classes if they are English Language Learners, qualify for reduced or free lunch or are homeless. The district is also testing a pilot program for 3-year-olds.
Robert W. Hart

Today, parents can begin enrolling their 4-year-olds in pre-K classes in the Austin Independent School District, but today also marks the districts roll-out of a pilot program to enroll qualified 3-year-olds in half-day pre-K classes.

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AISD
12:09 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Nine Austin ISD Schools Fail State Standards

A sample question on a STAAR test.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

90 percent of school districts in Texas met state standards, according to results released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.

Under a new rating system that began last year, schools are rated as Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required.

“Texans should be pleased to see the vast majority of districts, charters, and campuses are meeting the standards set in the second year of the state accountability system,” Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement. “While the 2014 numbers are positive, the work continues in districts across our state to meet and exceed increasing state standards and the expectations of their local communities.”

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AISD
10:11 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Austin Graduations Rose Under Carstarphen, But Lagged Behind Statewide Rates

AISD graduation rates rose under Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, but didn't match a statewide increase.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

The largest school district in Central Texas has hit a record high graduation rate. But the Austin school district still lags behind the state average.

In the five years that former Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen oversaw the district before leaving for Atlanta, graduation rates rose by ten percent. In 2013, it hit a new high of just over 84 percent. And the increases in graduation rates were across all student groups in AISD, including Hispanics, African-Americans, economically disadvantaged and special education students. 

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Austin ISD
3:37 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

At Blackshear Elementary, Students' Choices Help Build Their Future Portfolios

Students at Blackshear Elementary will choose which artistic elective they can study in the second half of their school day.
Courtesy of Blackshear Elementary

This fall, Blackshear Elementary will become Austin Independent School District’s first fine arts elementary school. The school offers students a choice in their daily lesson plans, with one half of the day focusing on academics and the other half focusing on arts education.

Tonight, the district will host an open house for parents interested in enrolling their students at the traditionally under-enrolled school.

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AISD
11:01 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Photos: Inside AISD's New Performing Art Center & Jaime Padron Elementary

A look at a corridor in the new Jaime D. Padron Elementary School in North Austin.
Mengwen Cao/KUT News

Construction continues on two Austin school district buildings that are set to open this academic school year. The two sites – a performing arts center in the Mueller development and Jaime D. Padron Elementary School near Rundberg Lane and U.S. Highway 183 – will meet the needs of Austin's expanding population.

The new performance arts center isn’t expected to be complete until November, with grand opening events in January of next year. But the shell of the 1,200-seat auditorium is already visible. The center will house everything from performance and rehearsal rooms, to a recording studio and a kiln for visual art.

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AISD
8:25 am
Tue July 15, 2014

AISD Wants Public Input in the Search for Superintendent Carstarphen's Replacement

AISD hopes former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's replacement will be selected with the help of public input.
Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Leaders in the Austin Independent School District want to know what kind of leader they should hire to run the 86,000 student school district and they're asking for the public's input. The district is holding a series of public input meetings this week starting Tuesday. The forums are part of the school board’s plan to have a more open search process. When the district hired former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen in 2009, she was unveiled as the sole finalist. The move upset some people in the community who thought the process lacked transparency. 

This time, the district will initially interview candidates in a closed search. After it identifies two to four finalists, it will introduce them to the public. Community groups, parents and stakeholders will then have a chance to provide feedback on the finalists. But before all that happens, the district wants to hear from the community about what kind of finalists they should be looking for in the first place so it can create a profile once it starts accepting applicants.

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Education
10:20 am
Wed June 11, 2014

After Charter Fracas, AISD Hopes Allan Childhood Center Regains Parents' Trust

Allan Elementary has been empty this school year, but is ready to be retrofitted with a childhood center.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

East Austin resident Archette Alexander remembers when she took her son out of the neighborhood public elementary school and put him in a charter school. She says teachers had lost their passion due to all of the testing.

Now, Alexander’s youngest daughter is three, and she’s interested in putting her back in the school district – at AISD's early childhood center.

“The passion the other teachers have gives me hope as a parent that kids can thrive here,” Alexander says. 

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Suspensions at AISD
10:02 am
Wed May 21, 2014

This Austin High School Reduced Suspensions by Teaching Personal Responsibility

Kent Roberson, director of the Personal Responsibility Center at Reagan Early College High School. The center has helped reduce home suspensions by nearly 75 percent in one year.
Credit Kate McGee, KUT News

This is the final story in a three part series about student suspensions in the Austin Independent School District. Read Part One and Part Two.

In AISD, black students make up about eight percent of the student population. But last year they accounted for nearly a quarter of the students suspended from school. The so-called discipline gap is an issue in public schools across the nation, and it's something AISD has tried to combat since former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen came to AISD in 2009.  

Addressing Racial Disparities from the Top Down

AISD Interim Chief Schools Officer Edmund Oropez admits a discipline gap exists between African-American students and their peers, but he says the district has implemented various strategies aimed at closing it. A few years ago, the district created the Cultural Proficiency and Inclusiveness department. Leader Angela Ward single-handedly provides cultural awareness training to all new teachers and administrators. The training asks teachers to examine their own biases – something UT Professor Richard Reddick says is key to creating trusting relationships between teachers and students.    

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Suspensions at AISD
11:32 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Why Do Black Students Get More Suspensions? Here Are 3 Possible Reasons

Nearly one in eight African American students in AISD were given home suspensions last year, more than any other student. It's a national trend that the Department of Education says starts as early as preschool, but there are varying theories as to why.
Credit flickr.com/dcjohn/

This story is the second installment of a three-part series examining the so-called discipline gap among student groups who receive out-of-school suspensions in the Austin Independent School District. Read Part One here.

During the 2013 school year, African-American students made up eight percent of the AISD student population, but nearly a quarter of the students given an out-of-school suspension.

The discipline gap is not unique to the district; nationwide, black students are suspended at higher rates than their peers. In March, the U.S. Department of Education reported the trend in black student suspensions starts as young as preschool.

While many, including AISD officials, admit the discipline gap exists, fewer people seem to have a solid answer as to why. 

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Suspensions at AISD
11:37 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Black Students Are Eight Percent of AISD – and Nearly One-Fourth of Suspensions

Credit Zack Maxwell / Arlingtonvoice.com

Since 2009, the number of suspensions at Austin public schools has fallen. But African-American students continue to receive out-of-school suspensions at a higher rate than their peers.

During the 2013 school year, 1,066 African-American AISD students – almost 13 percent of the black student population of 8,334 – received out-of-school suspensions. In that same period, 549 white AISD students were suspended­ ­– only 2.24 percent of the 24,543 white student population. Going by those numbers, African-American students are nearly six times more likely to be suspended from school.

Despite teacher training and district efforts, many African-American parents and community members feel like their children aren't understood.

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Austin ISD
10:07 am
Fri May 16, 2014

These Students Forged a Friendship in Austin's 'Golden Age' of Integration

Richard Reddick, left, and Ryan Scarborough upon graduating from Johnston High School in 1990. The two lived in different Austin neighborhoods, but attended the same high school because of school integration policies.
Credit Richard Reddick

Austin has its own convoluted history when it comes to school integration – one involving multiple federal lawsuits and many different strategies to desegregate schools.

Busing was one of those strategies. Many students were bused across the city to schools on the other side of town. West Austin residents went to East Austin schools and visa versa. 

Saturday, May 17, marks 60 years since the Supreme Court struck down the concept of "separate but equal" in Brown v. Board of Education. It's a decision that affected students across the country. But for two Austin teenagers in the late 1980s, it also sparked a life-long friendship.

If you think about it, it’s a miracle Richard Reddick and Ryan Scarborough ever met. Scarborough, a white student from Austin’s Northwest Hills neighborhood, was bused to Johnston High School on Austin's east side, starting in 1986.

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Austin ISD
10:33 am
Mon April 28, 2014

A 'Divided' Austin School Board Faces An Uncertain Future

The Austin School Board
KUT News

The Austin School Board has its first board meeting tonight with Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz tonight.

The board faces many decisions in the coming months, and some are worried it’s having trouble making decisions – especially as it begins its search for a new superintendent.

Last general board meeting, school board members Cheryl Bradley and Jayme Mathias clashed over the approval of school uniforms for the new single-gender campuses, with Bradley calling Mathias' proposal to postpone a decision "ridiculous."

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AISD
9:08 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen Says Goodbye to Austin

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen photographed in 2009. Her final AISD board meeting was Monday evening.
KUT News

Wednesday will be Austin School Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s last day with the district before she leaves for the same position in Atlanta.

Carstarphen attended her final school board meeting in Austin Monday night, where she was recognized for her contributions to the district over the past five years.

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AISD
8:08 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Austin School Board Names Paul Cruz Temporary Superintendent

Paul Cruz will run the largest school district in Central Texas while the school board searches for a long-term replacement for Meria Carstarphen.
AISD http://powerofusinaustinisd.blogspot.com/2010_08_26_archive.html

Austin school trustees unanimously appointed Paul Cruz as interim superintendent Tuesday night. They also accepted Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's resignation, as she heads to Atlanta to lead that city's public school system.

Carstarphen will remain superintendent until April 23, when her resignation goes into effect. The school district can have a superintendent and an interim superintendent at the same time, as Carstarphen helps Cruz assume his temporary position.

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