AISD

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Update: Early voting ends today for the AISD bond election. 

Original post: Early voting starts today for the Austin Independent School District bond election.

Voters will make a decision on a $892 million bond for AISD. The bond is split into four parts and would go towards things such relieving overcrowded schoolsincreasing security, technology upgrades and more. You can view a sample ballot provided by the Travis County Clerk's Office listing each proposition.

Teodora Erbes/flickr

Update (10:14 p.m.): The Austin School Board Monday night unanimously approved a committee recommendation to partner with Johns Hopkins University to help run Eastside Memorial High School. The decision comes after years of debate between community and school board members over the future of Eastside, a school that has been underperforming for almost a decade.

"I think this is just the beginning," Trustee Gina Hinojosa said at Monday's meeting.

More than 15 community members spoke in support of Johns Hopkins University's Talent Development Secondary program. It was recommended by a committee of parents, teachers and AISD officials. The committee reviewed five proposals before making its recommendation.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin American-Statesman editorial board surprised local politics watchers this weekend by voicing opposition to the Austin Independent School District’s $892 million bond package. The daily recommended taxpayers vote against all four bond propositions.

The editorial board said while it’s a strong supporter of public education, it “cannot in good conscience recommend approval of a package that is riddled with questionable cost estimates and expenditures and rushed for inclusion on the May ballot.”

KUT News

Update:  If there’s one word that sums up Eastside Memorial High School’s recent history, it would be, “change.”

In 2008, its name was changed from Johnston High School to Eastside Memorial.  In 2011, the School Board changed the way the school functioned. It partnered with the charter school company—IDEA—to run the school. Then, in 2012, the School Board changed its mind and canceled that contract. On Monday, the board is expected to vote on another change: a new partner to help AISD run the school.  

flickr.com/Cinderellasg

A majority of Austin high schools are seeing increased attendance, according to an online data tool from the district. But only three of the district's high schools have attendance rates above the 2012 goal AISD laid out in its Strategic Plan.

Anderson, Bowie and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy are the only high schools in the district with attendance rates over 93 percent. In the district’s Strategic Plan, the goal was attendance rates for all students above that by 2012. 

KUT News

An online tool that measures attendance at Austin public schools shows attendance at most of the district’s high schools is up a little. And an increase by even half a percentage point can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars more in state funding.

In Texas, public education funding is linked to attendance rates: Fewer students attending class means less money from the state. 

Kate McGee, KUT News

By law, the Austin Independent School District can’t advocate for or against the $892 million bond it’s proposed to voters. But that doesn’t mean outside groups haven't expressed support or opposition – specifically with their checkbooks.

In its April campaign finance report, the Vote for Our Kids political action committee reported $30,796 in donations for the bond election. Almost all of the contributors are developers and construction companies, as well as private donors affiliated with those trades.

KUT News

Just over one percent of registered Travis County voters have cast a ballot in the May election so far. Early voting began Monday. The big item on the ballot is the Austin Independent School District’s bond.

Most of Austin ISD's $892 million in bond proposals would put money towards repairs and construction in schools district-wide. But Proposition 4 would allocate $168 million dollars towards academics and athletics, along with facility upgrades to implement those programs.

flickr.com/whiteafrican

Early voting is underway for the $892 million bond proposal from the Austin Independent School District. The district decided to hold the election in May – as it usually does. But now, the Austin City Council decided to move its general elections from May to November. 

With turnout expected to be extremely low, will AISD continue to keep its elections in May?

KUT News

Early voting for the Austin Independent School District $892 million bond begins Monday. The bond is split into four propositions, based on a variety of projects from systemic repairs to improvements to relieve overcrowding. 

AISD says enrollment has grown by about 1,000 students per year, two to three times faster than the state average. The district is hoping to relieve some of the overcrowding that's come with that growth. Prop 2 would borrow $234 million to do that. Some of it goes toward school security, but most of the money is earmarked for expanding existing schools and building new ones. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

An effort to derail the Austin school district’s bond election was unsuccessful Friday.

A Travis County Court judge refused a request for a temporary restraining order to stop the vote. The order was sought by the Travis County Taxpayer Union. The group contends the official ballot language doesn’t say anything about how much each proposition would cost voters. 

Kate McGee, KUT News

Sixty percent of students in the Austin school district are Hispanic. And more than half of those students are English language learners with parents who do not speak English or are also learning the language.

That can make it difficult for some parents to stay involved in their children’s education, and AISD is trying to bridge that gap with La Que Buena, 104.3-FM.

Flickr user TylerMcQuarrie, bit.ly/15K08Z2

Since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, school districts across the country are focusing on security. The Austin Independent School District is asking its voters whether it can use some of its $892 million proposed bond package to improve school security.

At $233 million, Proposition Two is the largest of the propositions in the bond package. $23 million of those funds would go toward a variety of security improvements district wide. The largest would be to replace the district’s 20 year-old radio system.

KUT News

The Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Austin Independent School District over its $892 million bond package residents will vote on in a special election May 11. The district says the bond would be used to pay for a variety of capital projects to ease overcrowding, improve technology, security and other systemic repairs.

The TCTU says AISD failed to include in the ballot language the maximum property tax rate levied on residents or if the tax rate is unlimited.

flickr.com/namoscato

The Austin Independent School District is estimating it will have a $45 million shortfall in its 2014 budget. The district is holding a community meeting tonight to discuss spending priorities.

AISD officials say there are a few reasons for the projected budget shortfall. Most of the deficit is money that will be taken or “recaptured” from AISD – a district considered property rich. That money is then distributed to districts that are considered poorer.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is hosting a community meeting tonight on its 2014 budget and its $892 million bond proposal that's up for a vote next month. 

AISD wants to issue bonds to fund capital projects throughout the district. The money wouldn’t be used for day-to-day expenses, but for things like technology upgrades, more classrooms and increased security.

YouTube

A video posted on You Tube is pleading with state officials not to close Eastside Memorial High School.

The school is at risk of closure or state takeover if the Austin Independent School District does not choose an acceptable outside partner to run the school and improve the school's performance. 

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District has received five proposals from outside partners to lead the school improvement plan at Eastside Memorial High School, most of which are from organizations outside Texas.

The five companies include John Hopkins University, Turnaround Solutions Inc., Editure Professional Development, American Institutes for Research, and a local company, Southwest Key Programs, Inc.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: IDEA public schools says in the fall it will open its charter school—currently operated at Allan elementary—at The Church in Austin, located at 220 Foremost Dr. IDEA had to find a new location after the Austin Independent School District terminated its contract with the charter program in December.

The decision to break the agreement with IDEA could result in an empty Allan Elementary building this fall. There are some short and long term options for the school building, but mostly a lot of unknowns. 

Original Story (April 10, 2013, 7:41 p.m.): Last spring, the Austin Independent School District contracted with a charter school – IDEA Public Schools  – to run Allan Elementary. 

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin School District's 2013 bond proposal is a $892 million package consisting of four bond propositions. The projects range from more security and technology in schools and basic repairs to the construction of new schools and additional classrooms. 

AISD has created an interactive map breaking down how much money and what projects are proposed for a majority of schools in the district. 

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