AISD

Education
4:36 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

School? On Memorial Day?!

A bus much like this one will take Austin ISD students to school this Memorial Day to make up for a snow day last February.
Photo by KUT News.

A note to those students (and maybe some teachers and staff) who were celebrating a snow day in Austin last February 4th: It's time to pay the piper.

Memorial Day, May 30th, is a "bad weather make-up day" for the Austin School District. All district schools will be open to make up for the day that was lost during the epic around-an-inch of snowfall that hit the area last February.

Education
4:22 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Austin’s LASA Scores High In National School Ranking

Students in the Liberal Arts and Science Program at LBJ High School
Photo by Austin ISD

The magnet program at LBJ High School, the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), is the highest ranked Austin high school in a new national ranking.  LASA placed 29th out of more than 1,900 public schools nation-wide. 

The Washington Post’s Jay Matthews ranked high schools across the country using the so-called Challenge Index, which the Post says is a relatively simple measure.

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Education
3:32 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

New AISD Facilities Master Plan Would Include Dissenting Views

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is trying to resurrect a ten-year plan for managing school district facilities by including a wider range of input.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The woman in charge of the Austin Independent School District is trying to resurrect a ten-year grand strategy for managing the 12 million square feet of AISD buildings and other facilities.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen held a work session with the school board on Monday to try and hash out what changes should be made to the existing Facilities Master Plan to make it more politically palatable. The current plan, adopted by the board in March, was set aside by school board members in large part because it included an option to close nine schools.

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Education
12:23 pm
Wed May 18, 2011

AISD Takes Steps To Sell Downtown Headquarters and Baker Center

AISD's downtown headquarters sits on 2.75 acres of prime real estate off W. 6th St.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Facing a budget crisis, the Austin Independent School District is taking initial steps to sell two of its largest administrative properties: the 2.75 acre headquarters that sits on prime real estate on upscale W. 6th St., and the 4.4 acre Baker Center in trendy Hyde Park.

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Education
7:21 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

Austin ISD Superintendent Seeks To Revive Facilities Master Plan

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen (left) speaks with school board members Lori Moya and Vince Torres during tonight's meeting.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin public schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen is attempting to pick up and dust off a politically risky facilities master plan that was reluctantly accepted this spring by the nine elected volunteers who govern the largest school district in Central Texas.

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Education
12:53 pm
Mon May 9, 2011

Austin ISD Board To Mull Historic Tax Exemptions Tonight

This map shows the location of historic landmarks in Austin. The school board is getting ready to decide whether to reinstate a program that gives tax breaks to the owners of those properties.
Image courtesy Austin ISD

Until last summer, if you lived in a home that was deemed to be a historical landmark, you could get a big break on your school property tax bill. That came to an end in August 2010, when the Austin ISD school board decided to suspend those exemptions in the face of a looming fiscal crisis. Tonight, the board is scheduled to talk about whether to reinstate the program.

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Education
12:12 am
Tue April 26, 2011

AISD Board Buys Land For Performing Arts Center

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Independent School District took a big step last night toward building a district-wide performing arts center. They agreed to buy a 4.5 acre, $4 million plot of land near the Dell Children’s Medical Center to construct the building.  But that construction might not begin for several years.

The Austin ISD has been trying to build a performing arts center for decades.  But over the past few months, board members have been forced to grapple with a financial crisis.

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Austin
9:26 am
Mon April 25, 2011

Austin School Trustees To Hold Public Hearing On Budget

AISD has $690 million to spend on everything from school buses to teachers in the 2011-12 school year, but that's $94 million less than 2010-11.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The nine elected officials who govern the Austin school district want to hear from the public tonight on the largest financial challenge AISD has faced in recent memory: a $94.4 million projected budget gap.  The deficit has already been cut in half by the elimination of more than 1,000 positions, but board members still have a $46 million shortfall to confront.

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Education
3:16 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

State Education Boss Scraps Controversial Texas Projection Measure

Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott at an event in February.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

A contentious calculation used by the state to measure academic performance at schools will be abandoned, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott announced today. The Texas Projection Measure (TPM) counted some students as passing, even if they failed, as long as they were algorithmically predicted to pass in the future. TPM had long drawn the ire of conservative business leaders, minority education activists and progressive policy groups.

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Austin
11:52 am
Fri April 22, 2011

AISD Board To Vote On Buying $4 Million Tract For Arts Center

A view of the sky from AISD headquarters. School board members will gather here on Monday to vote on a $4.1 million contract to buy land for a performing arts center.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin School Trustees have been grappling with a projected $94.4 million budget shortfall, forcing tough decisions like cuts to jobs and programs. But on Monday night, the school board will have an entirely different decision to make: whether to buy a $4.1 million tract of land on which to build a district-wide performing arts center.

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Politics
11:31 am
Thu April 21, 2011

Texas Senate Budget Spends Another $3 Billion From Rainy Day Fund

In an 11-4 vote, the Senate Finance Committee approved a spending plan that draws another $3 billion from the Rainy Day Fund.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Texas Senate Finance Committee has approved a budget that spends down an additional $3 billion from the state's Rainy Day fund, according to our political reporting partner the Texas Tribune.  The 11-4 vote came faster than expected this morning, and it sets up a showdown between House and Senate lawmakers.

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Education
4:53 pm
Wed April 20, 2011

Austin ISD Expanding Dual Language Program To Six Schools

Photo by KUT News

Two more elementary schools will offer dual language programs in the Austin Independent School District this fall. Sunset Valley Elementary and Travis Heights Elementary will join Becker, Ridgetop, Perez and Wooten elementary schools. The program will be offered to Pre-K and first grade students only, and will expand as students age.

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Education
11:55 am
Wed April 20, 2011

Central Texas Superintendent Salaries Per Enrolled Student

With Central Texas superintendents shedding portions of their salaries to share the pain of public school cuts, we thought it would be interesting to compare their base salaries. We then broke it down on a dollar per student basis.  Continue reading for an interactive graph.

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News Brief
6:11 am
Tue April 19, 2011

Top Morning Stories April 19, 2011

Devastation from the 100-acre fire in Oak Hill on Sunday.
Photo by Matt Largey for KUT News

Monitoring Oak Hill Hot Spots

The Austin Fire Department says eight firefighters are still in Oak Hill looking out for any hot spots from Sunday’s 100-acre blaze.  Firefighters worked overnight and officials say the fire is around 90 percent contained this morning.

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Education
12:40 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Austin School Trustees To Discuss Advertising On School Buses

Austin ISD buses are currently devoid of any advertising, but that could change.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The nine elected men and women who govern the Austin school district will meet for a work session tonight aimed at tackling some of the options on the table for closing a projected budget gap of $94 million. One of those options would see advertising sold on the sides of school buses.

The proposal being investigated by AISD Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Fryer would split advertising revenue equally with the district and the vendor. AISD would retain full control over the content and type of advertising.

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Education
12:00 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Superintendent Carstarphen's KUT Interview Scrutinized By PolitiFact

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen in 2009, shortly before she was hired by the school board.
Photo by Nathan Bernier

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Meria Carstarphen sat down with KUT for a rare one-on-one interview this month covering a broad range of topics facing the school district as it grapples with a projected $94 million deficit. One statement Dr. Carstarphen made about Pease Elementary School caught the attention of eagle-eyed journalists at PolitiFact Texas.

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Arts and Culture
7:37 am
Fri April 1, 2011

Watch Reagan High School Band Peforming with Kanye West

This morning's Austin American-Statesman reports on what was likely a dream come true for kids in the Reagan High School band: performing with Kanye West at the Seaholm Power Plant during SXSW.

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Education
11:30 am
Thu March 31, 2011

Ask The AISD Superintendent About The Budget Tonight

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen speaks to reporters with her CFO Nicole Conley-Abram in the background. The two will be answering questions about the budget tonight at Bowie High School.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will be out in public again this evening with her financial chief, Nicole Conley-Abram, trying to explain the school district's budget situation and take input from the public.

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Education
4:24 pm
Mon March 28, 2011

Austin School Trustees To Vote On Job Cuts, Facilities Master Plan

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen and school board president Mark Williams at a board meeting in February.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The pink slips have already been sent to hundreds of employees in the Austin Independent School District. Tonight, the nine men and women on the AISD board of trustees will vote on whether to officially enact those job cuts. At the same time, a year-long process to develop a master plan for school district facilities will reach its culmination when board members are asked to approve the 10-year plan.

Both issues are highly contentious because of their broad implications for employees, students, and parents.

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Education
2:34 pm
Fri March 25, 2011

East Austin Charter School Wants To Lease Eastside Memorial High

Southwest Key operates a charter school in East Austin and wants to lease the Eastside Memorial High building to expand its prep academy.
Photo by KUT News

Southwest Key, a national non-profit that operates a charter school in East Austin, is offering to lease Eastside Memorial High School and operate a prep academy in the building. Eastside Memorial currently houses a Global Tech High School and a Green Tech High School.  The Green Tech High was the only school in Austin ISD to be ranked "academically unacceptable" last year by the Texas Education Agency.

"That school has been low-performing for 11 or 12 consecutive years," communications consultant Paul Saldaña told KUT News. Saldaña's firm, Brisa Communications, is advocating on behalf of Southwest Key.

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