AISD

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.

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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.

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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. 

KUT News

Update: Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote in the May election.

If you’ve moved since the last time you voted – you’ll have to register again. In Travis County, you can register in person at one of tax office locations, mail in an application – which are available at post offices and libraries, or update your information online.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update:  Austin school district police say John Joseph Vasquez, a Blazier Elementary school teacher, was arrested Monday for alleged aggravated sexual assault and improper relationship between an educator and a student.

On April 1, the parent of a former AISD student contacted district police alleging the student had been assaulted as a first grader from January to March of 2011. District police conducted a forensic interview with the child, who did not wish to be identified. Police also conducted a short interview with the suspect. District Police Chief Eric Mendez says there may have been multiple incidences, but the investigation is still ongoing. Mendez says there is no reason to believe there are other victims. 

Map Data @2013 Google

About 850,000 students in Texas are English language learners. That’s one in every six students, and their numbers are growing fast.

Last year, the State of Texas spent an average of $234 per English learning student.  By contrast, the Austin school district spent nearly $1,300 dollars per English learning student. That's five times the state average.

The maps below show the geographic distribution of the multilingual population of Austin ISD Area, by percent, as compared to Student Enrollment in AISD Bilingual or ESL programs, ages 5-17.

KUT News

The Austin school district is making strides in high school graduation rates and applications for college financial aid, and is holding steady with college and career readiness rates, according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

The analysis was part of the chamber’s annual education progress report. Shaun Cranston, who helped prepare it, says AISD’s success has broad implications for Austin’s economic development.

KUT News

Community members watching the Austin School Board’s meeting online or on television Monday may have been confused when the district turned off its feed half way during its special meeting.

The reason, AISD says, is because the meeting transitioned from a Board Meeting to a Board Dialogue. According to the school district, its policy is to broadcast board meetings, but not dialogue sessions.

KUT News

  The Austin Chamber of Commerce says it fully supports the Austin Independent School District’s $892 million bond package for facilities, technology and infrastructure.

But the chamber’s ultimate approval required negotiations.

The Chamber of Commerce wants to see a Facility Master Plan to address under-enrollment and overcrowding in some schools created by June 2014. On Monday, the school board voted to change the title of whatever it’s coming up with from “Master Plan” to “Guiding Principles.” The board also voted to loosen the deadline.

The chamber immediately rescinded its support for the bond propositions. The board then brought the proposal back up for a vote and returned it to its original language. The chamber went home happy.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Texas schools and school districts will be labeled from A to F starting next school year.

The new system will replace the current labels that range from academically unacceptable to exemplary. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams explained his decision today to the state’s Senate Education Committee.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams is set to address the state Senate Education Committee this morning as lawmakers discuss several bills affecting schools.

Williams is expected to speak about school accountability ratings and how districts are trying to close achievement gaps between minority and white students.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The Austin Independent School District Board last night decided not to lease the Allan elementary school building to IDEA public schools. Allan is closing down at the end of the school year.

That’s because both Allan Elementary and Eastside Memorial High School were part of a plan involving charter school operator IDEA Public Schools. The board canceled the contract with IDEA in December.

flickr.com/cryptic_star

About 850,000 students in Texas are English language learners. That’s one in every six students, and their numbers are growing fast.

Last year, the State of Texas spent an average of $234 per English learning student.  By contrast, the Austin school district spent nearly $1,300 dollars per English learning student. That's five times the state average.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The American Civil Liberties Union wants information from the Austin school district about its plans to convert Pearce and Garcia middle schools into single-sex campuses.

The school board approved the controversial plan in January as part of its effort to improve educational outcomes at the two struggling campuses in northeast Austin. The plan takes effect in the 2014-2015 school year.

KUT News

A lawsuit filed today accuses the Austin school district of withholding public information on plans for Eastside Memorial High School.

AISD says it needs to find a third party to help run the troubled school to prevent the state from taking it over. Eastside has not met state academic accountability standards for nearly a decade.

But Steve Swanson, a member of the school’s campus advisory committee, says repeated open-records requests he’s submitted to the district have not turned up planning process documents for the campus. So he’s suing in Travis County District Court.

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is extending health insurance benefits to same-sex couples and unmarried domestic partners within the year. 

The decision comes after Pflugerville became the first Texas school district to offer health benefits for its employees with same sex partners last fall.

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