austin isd

KUT News

The number of households with children in Austin is decreasing—especially in the city’s urban core. That means there are more people eligible to vote for Austin ISD School Board trustees who don’t have any children in their neighborhood schools.

Here are a few reasons why you should still care about these school board elections, even if you don’t have kids. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

On Election Day four years ago, more than half of the Austin School Board of trustees were replaced.  

The school board had just approved a contract with IDEA public schools to run Allan Elementary. And community members were angry about the decision. They showed it at the ballot box—voting for Trustees Gina Hinojosa, Jayme Mathias and Ann Teich. Those trustees were elected on the promise of restoring community trust in the district—and improving community engagement. 

Has that happened?

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Ambres Kearney’s muscle memory flares up every time he drives back to his East Austin alma mater, Anderson High School. As he pulls into the U-shaped parking lot, he instinctively tries to park his car in the same spot where he parked his 1963 burnt orange Chevrolet 45 years ago as a high school senior. 

“My wife said ‘Where are you going?’ But it was so natural to drive up,” Kearney says. Instead, he parks in the street and sits on the stoop at the front entrance. Parts of the concrete steps underneath him are crumbling.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

It’s no secret Austin ISD is strapped for cash. So to help make ends meet – the district put ten of its properties up for possible sale. Many of the properties are plots of land, but the list also includes the district headquarters on Sixth Street and the Allan Elementary campus in East Austin – and that has some people excited.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Four Austin ISD School Board candidates faced questions Thursday from a group that might be their most important constituents: students.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Gretchen Nagy needs something – anything.

She's standing in front of two Austin ISD students and a district employee, who are about to go live on television, covering the district’s mock presidential election. The only problem: They have no results.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

At least four Central Texas school districts are exploring a new state law that allows them to become a "district of innovation." That designation means they can be exempt from various state regulations – just as open enrollment charter schools are. That can give schools more flexibility when it comes to hiring, class sizes and the school year start date, but not everyone is happy with the idea.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Public school districts in Texas are required to follow a lot of state rules, but a new state law allows those districts to receive exemptions from various regulations. It’s called a district of innovation plan and at least four Central Texas school districts are developing plans. 

Mengwen Cao for KUT

This summer, it was reported that all elementary schools in the Austin Independent School District would be required to provide half an hour of recess every day.

But, the policy isn’t in place just yet.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

For many middle and high school students, this year’s presidential election is their introduction to American politics and it’s an unusual election to start with. At Kealing Middle School, about a dozen students are taking an elective called Presidential Politics. They study the current presidential election — and local races, too. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

It was a muggy morning on the Long Center Terrance in downtown Austin. Central Texas school superintendents and their staffs fanned themselves as they listened to a local student mariachi band play.

But these education leaders weren’t there to just hear the music. They were there to address a major issue in Central Texas schools: student attendance.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Jonathan Hernandez started attending Austin public schools when he was ten. He didn't speak any English when he started fifth grade at Andrews Elementary, but with the help of teachers in his bilingual classes, he was able to learn the language. 

Audrey McGlinchy / KUT

At some schools in Austin ISD, most students who take Advanced Placement tests fail those exams. But students at the same schools are passing dual credit classes, college courses taught through Austin Community College. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

LBJ Early College High School and the Liberal Arts and Science Academy share the same building in the Austin Independent School District. But the schools have different philosophies when it comes to how their students should pursue college credits in high school. 

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Austin ISD offers Advanced Placement courses and tests at all of its schools, but the percentage of students who score high enough on the AP tests to receive college credit varies from campus to campus. 

Nathan Bernier/KUT

South Austin residents hoping Austin ISD will open a public magnet school in their neighborhood, similar to the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, may be waiting a while. This week’s school board meeting revealed just how far away the district is from making a decision. 

The number of school districts in Texas that did not meet state standards in 2016 rose slightly over 2015, though almost 94 percent of districts statewide did pass.

1,131 districts met the standards, while 66 failed. At the individual school level, 7,667 campuses met the 2016 standards, which is a small improvement over last year.

As the Texas Tribune notes:

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

Austin public school teachers and principals say they believe students of color are disproportionately disciplined in Austin ISD schools, according to a recently released results from the District Equity Self-Assessment. The survey results show many stakeholders believe there is room to improve equity in student outcomes, student access to academic programs and discipline.

US Army Corps of Engineers/flickr

When Austin resident Katy Ludlow was pregnant, she remembers how concerned many parents were about vaccinating their children. Actor Jenny McCarthy was speaking openly about her belief that her son’s autism was linked to vaccinations and Ludlow grew worried.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

This week, students from across the city are getting the chance to interact with Austin police in a summer camp called Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT.

The camp is part of a larger program to reduce gang activity in Austin.

At Martin Middle School, rising fifth graders were taking a tour of an Austin Police Department helicopter at one of several events scheduled for GREAT camp this week.