austin isd

Miguel Guitierrez Jr./KUT

Austin ISD and local charter school students got a chance to pitch innovative learning projects to a group of judges and experts this week as part of SXSWedu. Winners were awarded money to jumpstart their projects that focus on everything from gaming to equitable water access.


Miguel Guitierrez Jr. for KUT News

Austin public school parents and Northeast Austin residents gathered Thursday night to talk through possibilities for a planned school in the Mueller development. Some support the idea to build a middle school on the land. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

More Austin public high school students could start earning their associate degrees next year. Austin ISD is asking the state for permission to open Early College High School programs at two additional schools this fall.


Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Louis Ortiz sits at a table in the Eastside Memorial High School cafeteria in a crisp white shirt. Ortiz isn't a student, though. He's the district's new executive chef, and he's trying to spice up the district's lunch menu by adding new ethnic foods and more local fruits and vegetables from Johnson's Backyard Garden. 


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

There are ten acres of land set aside for a school in Northeast Austin’s Mueller neighborhood. But what if the Austin public school district did more than just build a school? That's what residents were asked to consider at a community meeting at Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy this weekend. 


Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

I’m sitting in a black, leather salon chair talking to Jennifer, my hair stylist for the day. We’re discussing how I want to cut my hair. The beauty of radio journalism is that my hair can remain in a top bun every day--like it does--and I don't have to think about it. It also means I have few answers to Jennifer's questions.

"So I kind of would like...I have some dead ends," I say, my voice trailing off. "It’s been a while since I got my hair cut. Maybe a couple inches?"


Nathan Bernier, KUT News

If you’re a teacher in an Austin public school, it’s hard to get a pay raise. Teachers who start out in Austin make around $45,000 a year. If they stay in the district for 20 years, on average, their annual salary increases by just $5,000 in that time, but some in the Austin Independent School District are trying to change that.


Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Since former Austin school board President Gina Hinojosa vacated her seat to run for the Texas House, the district has a new President and Vice President. And with that new leadership, there could be a renewed focus on the disparities between some AISD schools.


Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Some public schools in South Austin are teaching students how to become business leaders. They’ve implemented an entrepreneurship program for kindergartners through high school seniors that’s the first of its kind in the U.S. The Austin Independent School District unveiled the program at Crockett High School yesterday. 

Courtesy of AISD

In the Travis High School locker room, there is a basket of apples for students to grab a snack after practice. That basket is usually empty by 5:30 p.m., according to students, when the varsity and junior varsity football teams finish practice and head to the cafeteria for study hall. 

"I'm always hungry after practice," says Darrell Davis, a sophomore. "I'm always hungry, period."

Kate McGee/KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is targeting a new ally in the battle to boost student enrollment at some South Austin schools: real estate agents. The district opened the doors of three neighborhood schools to give real estate agents a better look at what's going on in the classrooms. 


KUT News

Today is National Voter Registration Day. And when it comes to getting people to sign up to vote, the focus is often on young people.


flickr.com/valeriamelissia

Four public schools in North Austin have received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the federal government to implement a full community school model on their campuses. Austin ISD is expected to announce the grant later this morning. 

The four schools are Lanier High School, Burnet Middle School, Cook Elementary and Wooldridge Elementary. 


Andrew Weber/KUT News

Most students in the Austin Independent School District returning to school today are minorities, but many of those students won’t see a minority teacher in front of the classroom. State data show there's a large diversity gap between teachers and students in all Austin high schools and middle schools.

Every single Austin middle and high school has more white teachers than teachers of any other ethnicity. Individually, schools have teaching staffs that are anywhere from 46 to 87 percent white. Last year, 25 percent of the district's middle and high school students were white. 

Kate McGee

A group of elementary school students sit on the floor of a classroom at Sunset Valley Elementary. They’re connecting plastic pieces to build orange ramps and pushing tiny race cars down them. The goal is to see if the car can make it all the way around the loop. 

"One, two, three," says one student before letting go of the race car. It doesn't make it.

"Oh! So close!" they yell. 

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Victoria Hernandez and her son Jayden wake up at 5 a.m. each day for Jayden’s pre-kindergarten class at Travis Heights Elementary School. They get ready at their apartment complex on Stassney Lane, four miles away from Travis Heights. Then, they walk to the bus stop to wait for the number one bus.

By the time they embark, it’s about 6:30 in the morning — the sun has just started to rise.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

Fourteen-year-old Karyme* has missed 14 days of eighth grade this school year. Her school, part of the Manor Independent School District, has taken her and her mother to court.

Now she and her mother stand in an Austin courtroom facing the presiding judge, Hon. Yvonne Williams.

Sarah Jasmine Montgomery/KUT

KUT and our city hall reporting partner the Austin Monitor are looking at needs that have typically been paid for by the state, but have become local responsibilities. Some call them unfunded mandates. KUT News and the Austin Monitor will look at key examples of that interaction in our series, “The Buck Starts Here.”  Today, Tyler Whitson and Kate McGee take on education.

Jennifer Mullins is sitting in her office at Eastside Memorial High School when a staff member comes in and asks for a stress ball. There’s a student outside that needs help. Mullins walks out the door and immediately takes control. 

"Hey bud, hey! Stress ball! Just breathe," Mullins says.  The student was having a negative reaction to a medication.

Mullins is one of two school counselors at Eastside Memorial High School who handles both emotional and academic support. Every student there is labeled at-risk. Mullins says she spends half her time dealing with students' needs outside the classroom.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Enrollment at Travis Heights Elementary School has dropped by seventy students this year — about 13 percent of the student population. 

It's a uniquely diverse school in an increasingly economically segregated Austin Independent School District. 

The median home price in the neighborhood is $689,000, according to the Austin Board of Realtors. But last year, 76 percent of the students who attended Travis Heights were considered economically disadvantaged. 

As the school celebrates its 75th anniversary Saturday, parents, staff and alumni must also consider its future. As affordable housing complexes scattered around the neighborhood become more expensive, more low-income families are leaving Travis Heights for cheaper housing.

It all started with a high school assembly on the first day back from winter break. The guest speaker was the founder of an Austin-based company with a positive message about following your dreams. But what was supposed to be a motivational speech turned into a war of words between high school students and staff and Kash Shaikh, the founder of #BeSomebody, that played out on blogs and social media.

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