AISD

Education
5:05 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Fiscal Cliff Would Mean Cuts to Local Schools

Lockers at Reagan High School in Austin. AISD could stand to lose more than $2 million in federal grants if sequestration cuts are enacted.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Texas would lose about eight percent of its federal education funding if Washington can’t reach a compromise to avoid the package of spending cuts and tax increases contained in the “fiscal cliff.” Most of that money pays for programs to help children from low income families and to help students with disabilities.

Texas’ share of those so-called Title I and IDEA grants would be cut by $174 million, according to Texas Education Agency estimates. In a school district like Austin’s – where almost two out of three students are economically disadvantaged – federal grants would be cut by more than $2 million. You can see an estimate of your school district's cuts by checking this TEA document

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AISD
10:38 am
Wed December 19, 2012

AISD Releases List of Schools Frozen to Transfers

Locked up: Bowie High School, pictured above, is one of five high schools frozen for transfers.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District has released its list of schools that are frozen to transfers for the 2013-2014 school year.

Over two dozen campuses are  frozen to transfers, while another 17 will be reevaluated after requests for priority transfers are approved.

Beginning Jan. 7, parents will be able to submit their transfer requests by mail or in person at AISD's Office of Student Services.

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Education
1:51 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

IDEA Vows to Open Its Own Charter School in Austin

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

http://kut.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/121218-AISD-IDEA-Postportem-news-conference-1055.mp3  

IDEA Public Schools says it will continue to operate in Austin, even after the Austin school board voted last night to cancel its contract with the charter school company.   

“This is certainly the most complex and intricate partnership with a district that we or really almost any charter school in the state of Texas has tried," IDEA founder and CEO Tom Torkelson said outside the IDEA Allan campus this morning. "Hopefully, this won’t stop the school district or other charters in the future from continuing to find great ways to partner and work together.”   

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Education
12:23 am
Tue December 18, 2012

AISD Cancels Contract With IDEA Charter School

A packed school board auditorium last night as supporters and opponents of IDEA Allan watched to see what would happen.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

An experimental partnership between the Austin school district and a South Texas charter school company will come to an end. On Monday night, the AISD board voted narrowly in favor of terminating its contract with South Texas charter school operator IDEA Public Schools. It's a new affirmation of the old cliché, "elections matter." 

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Austin City Council
3:47 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

On Tap at Council: Beer & Wine Sales for New Wheatsville Co-op

Wheatsville's current location on Gudalupe. The co-op wants to sell alcohol at a new store, but needs the city council's blessing.
flickr.com/aged_accozzaglia

The Austin City Council is set to hear a request from Wheatsville Co-op on whether it can sell beer and wine at a new location on South Lamar Boulevard.

A respected local business looking to open a second location, with the backing of neighbors and local organizations: sounds like a slam-dunk, right? 

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Education
3:22 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

AISD Fixing Cafeterias After Glass Found in Food

Austin ISD parents were sent a letter describing the findings at Allison Elementary.
AISD

Austin ISD is conducting repairs at 18 elementary school cafeterias after an employee found glass in the pinto beans last week at Allison Elementary School. 

"She immediately pulled the pinto beans from the tray and also from the line and called to report the incident," says AISD health supervisor Tracy Lunoff. 

Turns out the sneeze guard broke and glass fell into the food. The vendor, Moduserve, has been called in to fix them. AISD says no students were hurt, and it sent this letter to parents notifying them of the incident. It also called parents directly whose children may have eaten the pinto beans. 

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Education
8:40 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New AISD Board To Examine IDEA Charter Contract (Update)

Allan Elementary school
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The Austin School Board will continue to talk about the district’s contract with IDEA Public Schools at its regular meeting later this month.

Right now, IDEA is just operating at Allan Elementary. But the charter will grow to include more grades and expand into Eastside Memorial if the board doesn’t make a decision to end or change the contract before the end of the year. Board member Rev. Dr. Jayme Mathias proposed that the contract continue but be changed to keep IDEA from expanding into Eastside Memorial next school year.

Under his proposal, IDEA would continue to include more grades but, instead of moving on to the Eastside Memorial campus, seventh graders would stay at Allan.

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Education
9:37 am
Tue November 27, 2012

AISD Superintendent Takes Stand in School Finance Trial

AISD Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Austin Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen is expected to take the stand again today in the school finance trial.

AISD is one of about 600 Texas school districts suing the state. AISD says the state has increased academic requirements, but failed to provide funding to pay for it.

The Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education last year.

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AISD
7:38 am
Tue November 20, 2012

New AISD Board Members Take Oath (Update)

New members will soon take to the dais at AISD headquarters.
KUT News

Update (Nov. 20, 7:38 a.m.): The dynamics of the Austin School Board of Trustees continue to shift. The board voted to elect officers last night—including two newcomers.

Vince Torres, District 4, will move from Vice President to President—replacing Mark Williams, who decided not to seek another term.

New member Gina Hinajosa, At Large Position 8, was picked to take Torres' place.

Another new member, Jayme Mathias, District 2, is taking over the role of Secretary. Lori Moya, District 6, had served in the role.

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AISD
1:21 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Here's What AISD’s Performing Arts Center Will Look Like

Artist's rendering of AISD's new performing arts center.
Pfluger Associates Architects

Four new Austin school board members will be sworn in tonight, and one of their first orders of business will be approving the maximum price of a new district-wide performing arts center in the Mueller development.

Contained in the agenda item are the final renderings showing exactly what the center would look like. You can click on the slideshow above to view the images, which were pulled from this AISD document.

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Reagan High
4:58 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Not Without Honor: Reagan High Football Gunning For $25K Grant

The Reagan Radiers were profiled in a series of underdog high school football teams.
sportsillustrated.cnn.com/specials/underdogs

Correction: Voting ends Thursday, Nov. 15, at midnight. KUT News has since corrected this post. 

Reagan High School’s football team is in the running for a $25,000 grant.

The Reagan Raiders are currently bringing up third place in Sports Illustrated’s “Underdogs” competition. An online video series highlighting struggling high school football teams that push on despite the odds, Reagan’s installment in the “Underdogs” series – “The Long Road Back” – documents the school’s attempt to rebuild.

The Raiders took home state championships in 1967, 1968 and 1970. But recent years haven’t been as kind to the team, which went 0-10 in 2011. “The Long Road Back” follows new coach Keith Carey and his team as they attempt to rebuild.

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Education
1:57 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Mathias Wins East Austin AISD Race By 104 Votes

Jayme Lee Mathias unseated incumbent Sam Guzman by a razor thin margin.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Unease with the Austin school district’s decision to implant a charter school into an East Austin campus helped an East Austin priest narrowly defeat a well-entrenched incumbent by the razor-thin margin. The Rev. Dr. Jayme Lee Mathias defeated five-year incumbent trustee Sam Guzman by a mere 104 votes.   

"There are so many people in East Austin, Dove Springs and Travis Heights who feel that they have not had a voice on the school board or a trustee who has listened to them for so long," Mathias said in a phone interview. "It is our agenda to bring a voice to them to the students and parents.”

Mathias is a priest in the American Catholic Church of the United States, a progressive breakaway from the Roman Catholic church. Mathias says he will be the first openly gay school board member in AISD, a detail he didn't mention during the campaign but disclosed to KUT last night. 

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Education
12:24 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Elenz Wins AISD's Downtown District 5

Amber Elenz easily won an open AISD district that includes downtown Austin.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Amber Elenz, a former broadcaster and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) leader, will replace school board president Mark Williams as the AISD trustee in District 5. Elenz easily defeated technology consultant Charlie Jackson in a school board district that covers downtown and the relatively affluent areas west and southwest of the urban core. With 20,000 votes counted, Elenz led 62 percent to Jackson's 38 percent.  

“What I’m really bringing to the table is a true embedded knowledge of District 5 and our school district,” Elenz told us in a pre-election interview. “I’ve been working directly with these parents and teachers for 13 years. And through that, you know what is important. You know how to work within the system, and really bring about change.”

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Education
12:13 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Hinojosa Wins At-Large Seat on AISD Board

AISD Trustee-elect Gina Hinojosa
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

In electing Gina Hinojosa to the Austin school board, local voters appointed a civil rights attorney who has pledged to challenge some of the educational overhauls championed by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. With 128,000 votes counted, Hinojosa leads Sooch Foundation director Mary Ellen Pietruszynski 69 percent to 31 percent.

“Our community has reaffirmed its belief in supporting our public schools and engaging the community,” Hinojosa said in a phone interview. “We have the potential to make Austin a great destination for public schools like it is for so many other things.”

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Education
11:25 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Teich Unseats Incumbent Brister in AISD District 3

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Retired teacher Ann Teich defeated incumbent trustee Christine Brister in Austin ISD District 3 in North Central Austin. The win was not a surprise, as Brister had suspended her campaign weeks ago, citing non-life threatening health issues.

With almost 10,000 votes counted, Teich led Brister 65 percent to 35 percent.

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Austin
2:05 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Mapping the Future of AISD

KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is inviting community input at a public hearing tonight about the 2013–2014 Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations (AAFR) tonight at the Carruth Administration Center on West Sixth Street.

There are a several important issues on the AAFR, the most polarizing being single-sex schools, improvements for athletic facilities and fine arts programs, and the expansion of the dual language program.

Here's a roundup:

  • The conversion of two middle schools to Single-Sex schools in northeast Austin were talked about back in August, but a School for Young Men was often left out of the headlines. The proposed School for Young Men would be college and career preparatory academy that develops a community of leadership and character centered young men. Enrollment could start as early as next school year.
  • The recommendation to improve athletic facilities has three potential proposals to throw out to community members with price ranges from $82 million to $179 million. Increased pay and flexible schedules for coaches are included within these proposals.

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Austin
8:33 am
Fri October 26, 2012

The Lead: Planned Parenthood Funding Cut, AISD Debt, Texas State Threat Suspect Arrested

Good morning. Looks like Austin's entering a cool down! There may be some light showers today, but it looks like clear skies all weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Here are some stories KUT News has been working on:

Governor Rick Perry says the state is moving to immediately to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood. The announcement came after a federal appeals court said Thursday it will not reconsider a decision that says Texas can withhold funds under the Women’s Health Program.

As the Austin Independent School District gets ready to ask voters to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing next May, figures published by the Texas Comptroller show the district has one of the the lowest per-student debt rates among Austin-area school districts. That said, AISD also has the most debt of any district in the area, at $809,435,850. But, calculated on a per-student basis, AISD’s outstanding debt it is $9,492. AISD also has the lowest debt per capita.

A former Texas State University student, 19-year-old Brittany Henderson, has been arrested for making a bomb threat at the school last week. Several buildings were evacuated because of the threat. Henderson was arrested in Bryan on Tuesday and charged with making a terroristic threat, which is a third-degree felony, and making a false alarm, which is a class A misdemeanor.

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Education
1:34 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

AISD Debt-To-Student Ratio Among Lowest in Central Texas

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

As the Austin Independent School District gets ready to ask voters to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing next May, figures published by the Texas Comptroller today show the district has one of the the lowest per-student debt rates among Austin-area school districts.

That said, AISD also has the most debt of any district in the area, at $809,435,850. But calculated on a per-student basis, AISD’s outstanding debt it is $9,492. The Austin school district also has the lowest debt per capita of $1,272.

A lot depends on how you define “Central Texas.” Lockhart ISD, for example, has a lower debt-to-student ratio of just $5,565.75. You will find lower debt ratios in some of the outlying, more rural districts in the region, like Granger ISD, Florence ISD, and Prarie Lea ISD, which has no debt at all. (It also has a student population of 232.)

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Austin
8:35 am
Wed October 24, 2012

Local Tax Exemptions at Center of New Lawsuit

An historic home on San Gabriel Street in Austin.
KUT News

Three Austinites are suing the City of Austin, Travis County, the Austin Independent School District and Central Health for allowing tax breaks on what the plaintiffs refer to as “allegedly” historic properties.

The plaintiffs are Dominic Chavez, Mike Levy and and Ed Wendler Jr. The three men claim that giving a tax break without proving a need is against the Texas tax code. And, they say, the policy unfairly benefits the wealthy—diverting $4 million of local tax revenue.

They also claim that the City of Austin’s method for historic designation is arbitrary and does little to actually ensure historic preservation:

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Education
4:50 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Public Hearing Tonight on AISD Bond

The Citizens' Bond Advisory Committee is coming up with a list of the district's top spending priorities.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

The Austin Independent School District’s Citizens’ Bond Advisory Committee is asking for public input on the district’s bond program this evening.

The committee is hosting a public hearing from 6:30 - 9 p.m. at Reagan High School (7104 Berkman Dr.).

Those wishing to speak should sign up at the high school before the meeting or submit comments on the district’s website.

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