eastside memorial

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

The state's top education official has approved a plan by Austin Independent School District that will allow Eastside Memorial High School to remain open. The campus had faced closure after years of failing to meet the state's academic benchmarks and after the Austin school board voted to discontinue a contract it had with the South Texas-based charter school operator IDEA that aimed to reverse sagging outcomes. 

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams made the announcement Wednesday evening at a commencement ceremony for the 129 graduating seniors at Eastside Memorial.

Hallway at Eastside Memorial High School
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Alumni from Johnston High School, now known as Eastside Memorial High School, are voicing concern over the likely takeover of their former campus by John Hopkins University. Austin ISD signed a contract with Johns Hopkins as part of a state-mandated effort to revive sagging test scores at the school. But Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams still has to approve the plan, or shut down the campus.

Ann Choi for KUT News

Last night, the Austin School Board picked Johns Hopkins University to help run Eastside Memorial High School.

Although the partnership is not yet official, the new proposal alleviated some community members’ concerns over the school’s uncertain future.

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.  

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Education Commissioner has until June to decide if Eastside Memorial High School in Austin will be shut down for poor academic progress.

The Austin Independent School District Board approved a plan last night that will guide their steps in case the school is closed. But AISD hopes instead the district will be allowed to partner with an outside group to run the high school.

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

A high school on Austin’s east side is once again facing the possibility of state closure. Eastside Memorial High has received the state stamp of academically unacceptable since 2004. In 2008 it was closed and reopened with a new name -- it used to be Johnston High School.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News

Last week, students at Eastside Memorial High School delivered a letter inviting the state’s top education administrator for a visit to hear how the threat of the school’s closure for poor academic performance affected them. It was a long shot, but yesterday Michael Williams spent almost two hours at Eastside Memorial. Students welcomed his visit, but the threat of closure remains.

As Williams’ visit approached, school administrators darted through the impeccable hallways shooting instructions to each other over walkie-talkies. Some students wore ties and sported fresh haircuts.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

A group of Austin students from Eastside Memorial High School plan to deliver a letter to Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams this morning.

They want to meet with Williams to share their concern over proposals to have the school taken over by a charter school operator.

KUT News

Eastside Memorial Principal Resigning

Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus Principal Joseph Coburn is resigning effective January first. The Austin Independent School District told KUT he announced his resignation during a staff meeting yesterday. An AISD spokeswoman says Coburn is leaving to pursue a doctoral degree. The Eastside school has struggled to meet state academic standards for years.

UTMB Likely to Continue Prison Health Care in 2012

University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have reached a tentative agreement on prisoner health care. The state would continue to fund UTMB to provide health care to about 120,000 Texas inmates through next August. UTMB was concerned about rising health care costs and more losses in running prisoner health care.

As KUT's Ben Philpott reported during Morning Edition, the Texas Legislature will begin its periodical review of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice starting in January. Scott Medlock, with The Texas Civil Rights Project, spoke to KUT about the group's concerns over health care in the state's prison system.

The TCRP sent a letter to the Sunset Advisory Commission pointing out what it considers inadequate health care for prisoners. Arguing for prisoner rights doesn’t always get results, Medlock said, so he’s also proposing measures to improve prisoner conditions while cutting costs for the state. For example, Medlock said the state should review policies that keep geriatric inmates behind bars as they will require a disproportionate amount of the state prison system’s healthcare dollars.

You can read Philpott's entire story here.

ERCOT Warns of Tight Power Supplies

The state's grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is warning there's a threat for rotating power outages next summer- especially if we have more record-setting temperatures. ERCOT says power reserves are down because some power plant units are scheduled to go offline and some planned units have been delayed.

Hallway at Eastside Memorial High School
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin School Trustees are holding a special meeting tonight to discuss a personnel matter that pits some teachers at Eastside Global Tech High against the school's principal.