Education

Austin ISD
10:32 am
Fri August 22, 2014

'Alarm' Over Texas School Finance, But Changes Not Expected Soon

Despite a possible decision in the school finance case next week, it could be years before local school districts see a change to the way public schools are financed in Texas.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

A decision in the latest school finance lawsuit is expected next week, but it could be years before school districts see any changes to the way education is paid for in Texas.

Right now, the school finance system is largely characterized by something called recapture, or  Robin Hood. If a school district collects more local property taxes than the state has determined it needs using a set of formulas, it has to give the difference back to the state. Then, the state puts that money in a big pot and uses it to fund other school districts, especially those that can’t raise enough local property taxes on their own.

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Austin ISD
10:50 am
Thu August 21, 2014

Here's Why Austin ISD Won't Keep All the Tax Money It Collects

Under the current school finance system, property wealthy school districts must return some of their local property taxes to the state under what's called recapture. Next week, a judge is expected to rule whether the system is constitutional.
flickr.com/alamosbasement

Within the next couple weeks, an Austin judge is expected to rule whether the state’s school finance system is constitutional. Meanwhile, Austin Independent School District officials are worried about how much money the district will have to educate students next year—and five years down the road. 

The reasons for that go back to something called “recapture," a process that means some school districts don’t get to keep all the money they collect. And it's extremely complicated.

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2014 Elections
12:58 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

Long Hours & No Pay Make School Board Hopefuls a Rare Find in Election Season

Candidates for the Austin School Board face long hours and late-night meetings.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Eighteen candidates are running for the five open seats on the Austin School Board this fall, which is nearly double the average number of people who have run for the school board in every election since 2002.

But, compared to the 78 candidates who have filed to run for the city council and the mayoral races this fall, the Austin school board doesn’t seem like the most popular place to spend your free time.   

That’s because being an Austin School Board Trustee isn’t easy.

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University of Texas
6:50 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Livestrong Gives $50 Million to UT's Dell Medical School

President Bill Powers says public-private partnerships such as the Livestrong Cancer Institutes are the future of UT-Austin's expansion.
Mengwen Cao/KUT

A $50 million donation to the forthcoming Dell Medical Center at UT-Austin will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institutes.

The gift, which will be doled out over the next decade, has pushed the university over its fundraising goal to raise $3 billion over eight years and looks to provide a new model of care for cancer patients in Travis County and beyond.

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Education
2:48 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

A&M Not Troubled by Lawmakers' Recommendation Letters

Credit Stuart Seeger via Texas Tribune

Recommendation letters written by elected officials and submitted directly to a university president have been a source of controversy at the University of Texas at Austin. And while Texas A&M University’s president has received similar letters, they have not set off similar alarms.

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Austin School Board
7:27 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

As School Board Elections Loom, Some Candidates Are Still Absent

Only seven candidates of the nine seats on the Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees have applied ahead of the filing deadline on Aug. 18.
KUT News

Update: One candidate has filed to run for the AISD School Board in District One. David "D" Thompson filed with the district Wednesday. Scroll down for a full list of the filed candidates.

Original Story (10:01 a.m.): For students in Austin schools, deadlines for homework or class projects are usually accompanied with an appropriate level of last-minute scrambling.

But, for would-be candidates vying for open seats on the Austin Independent School District’s school board, Monday’s filing deadline isn’t inspiring the same level of frenzy typically associated with school-related deadlines.

Only seven potential candidates have thrown their hat into the ring since the elections opened up on July 18, but the late-filings aren’t anything new to the campaigns for Board of Trustee races.

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AISD
9:53 am
Tue August 12, 2014

Despite a Majority of Low-Income Students, 'Robin Hood' Targets AISD's Budget

More than 60 percent of students in the Austin Independent School District come from low-income families.
Photo by KUT News

As the Austin Independent School District gears up to trim the fiscal fat this budget season, the district faces a tough financial future.

Enrollment is flat, and the school board is preparing to lose more than $1 billion to the state's school finance system over the next five years through "recapture," which shares revenue from districts with high property tax revenues with low-income school districts.

The board met last night to discuss the future for the district next year and in the future.

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UT Regents
2:53 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Transparency Committee Votes to Censure UT Regent Hall

State Rep. Dan Flynn (right), R-Van, talks to state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, on Oct. 23, 2013. Van is co-chair of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, whose members include Fischer.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

In a 6-1 vote on Monday, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations approved a motion to admonish and censure University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall for “misconduct, incompetency in the performance of official duties, or behavior unbefitting a nominee for and holder of a state office.”

The focus of the committee's inquiry has been the regent’s behavior since being appointed to the board in 2001, in particular his lengthy personal investigations of the University of Texas at Austin administration and his subsequent handling of private student information.

Some of Hall’s findings, such as his allegations that the flagship university is subject to undue political influence in its admissions processes, have led to formal inquiries and policy changes.

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AISD
8:31 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Austin Schools Begin Pre-K Enrollment, Roll-Out Pilot Programs for 3-Year-Olds

Austin parents can now enroll 4-year-olds in pre-K classes if they are English Language Learners, qualify for reduced or free lunch or are homeless. The district is also testing a pilot program for 3-year-olds.
Robert W. Hart

Today, parents can begin enrolling their 4-year-olds in pre-K classes in the Austin Independent School District, but today also marks the districts roll-out of a pilot program to enroll qualified 3-year-olds in half-day pre-K classes.

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AISD
12:09 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Nine Austin ISD Schools Fail State Standards

A sample question on a STAAR test.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

90 percent of school districts in Texas met state standards, according to results released Friday by the Texas Education Agency.

Under a new rating system that began last year, schools are rated as Met Standard, Met Alternative Standard or Improvement Required.

“Texans should be pleased to see the vast majority of districts, charters, and campuses are meeting the standards set in the second year of the state accountability system,” Education Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement. “While the 2014 numbers are positive, the work continues in districts across our state to meet and exceed increasing state standards and the expectations of their local communities.”

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Education
2:11 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Charters Push Back Against Measure on School Closures

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

In 2013, when Texas passed its first overhaul of charter school policy since 1995 — the year the publicly funded but privately operated schools were first established in the state — lawmakers included a provision intended to speed the shuttering of poor-performing schools.

But nearly 10 months after the Texas Education Agency marked six operators for closure under the new measure, three of those schools remain open. As those charters prepare to open their doors this month for a new school year, they say they are fighting a process that does not account for the full picture of a charter’s financial or academic health.  

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Education
4:24 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Biscuit Brothers Graduate From TV to Teaching at Fine Arts Farm

The cast of the Biscuit Brothers: Buttermilk Biscuit (Jill Leberknight), Buford Biscuit (Allen Robertson), Dusty Biscuit (Jerome Schoolar) and Tiny Scarecrow.
Biscuit Brothers

In Central Texas, The Biscuit Brothers are practically a household name.  Their TV show, filmed here in Austin, has earned them two Emmys and is syndicated as far away as Florida and New York.

The show spawned nearly fifteen years ago, when Jerome Schoolar and Allen Robertson were asked to fill in on a farm-themed sing along, initially a one-time gig. But the personas of Dusty and Buford Biscuit stuck  – and expanded into a successful PBS kids show. 

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AISD
10:11 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Austin Graduations Rose Under Carstarphen, But Lagged Behind Statewide Rates

AISD graduation rates rose under Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, but didn't match a statewide increase.
Nathan Bernier/KUT

The largest school district in Central Texas has hit a record high graduation rate. But the Austin school district still lags behind the state average.

In the five years that former Austin ISD superintendent Meria Carstarphen oversaw the district before leaving for Atlanta, graduation rates rose by ten percent. In 2013, it hit a new high of just over 84 percent. And the increases in graduation rates were across all student groups in AISD, including Hispanics, African-Americans, economically disadvantaged and special education students. 

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Education
11:48 am
Mon August 4, 2014

With Uncertainty, Schools Prepare for New Arrivals

On June 24, 2014, volunteers gather at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, where the Rio Grande Valley Catholic Charities have a makeshift shelter to help handle the surge of immigrants who have crossed into the U.S. in recent weeks.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Federal officials along the border have scrambled in the last few months to house and care for tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the border into the United States.

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Austin ISD
3:37 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

At Blackshear Elementary, Students' Choices Help Build Their Future Portfolios

Students at Blackshear Elementary will choose which artistic elective they can study in the second half of their school day.
Courtesy of Blackshear Elementary

This fall, Blackshear Elementary will become Austin Independent School District’s first fine arts elementary school. The school offers students a choice in their daily lesson plans, with one half of the day focusing on academics and the other half focusing on arts education.

Tonight, the district will host an open house for parents interested in enrolling their students at the traditionally under-enrolled school.

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Combating College Sexual Assault
10:12 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Enlisting Smartphones In The Campaign For Campus Safety

Circle of 6 was born out of the 2011 "Apps Against Abuse" challenge, a partnership between the Office of the Vice President, Department of Health and Human Services and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Kainaz Amaria/NPR

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 8:00 am

Technology – and particularly smartphones – could reshape safety efforts on college campuses. At least that's the hope of some developers.

Several new apps offer quick ways for college students facing unsafe or uncomfortable situations to reach out to their peers, connect with resources on campus and in their communities, or notify law enforcement.

These apps for the most part target sexual assault and rape, amid growing national concern about the prevalence of incidents and criticism of the ways colleges and universities are handling them.

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Education
7:26 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

McRaven Named Sole Finalist for UT System Chancellor

William H. McRaven
US Navy

On a conference call Tuesday evening, the University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously named Admiral William H. McRaven the sole finalist to be the next chancellor of the system.

McRaven, a Navy Seal and current commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, is perhaps best known for designing and coordinating the successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

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University of Texas
8:35 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Just What Does the University of Texas System Chancellor Do?

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa's replacement is being finalized.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

University of Texas System regents plan to meet today and they could name a finalist in their search for a new University of Texas System chancellor. That's after UT's current chancellor announced in February that he would step down. But just what does a chancellor do?

The two candidates being considered for the University of Texas System are Richard Fisher – the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – and Admiral William H. McRaven, a 36-year Navy Seal who led the task force that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

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UT Austin
11:45 am
Fri July 25, 2014

UT System Expected to Name New Chancellor on Tuesday

The Board of Regents of the UT System is expected to name William McRaven to succeed Francisco Cigarroa as chancellor.
Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, when they are expected to name the sole finalist to be the system's next chancellor. Sources with knowledge of the search told the Tribune that Admiral William H. McRaven is likely to be chosen.

McRaven is a Navy Seal best known for coordinating the successful operation to kill Osama bin Laden. He is currently the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, which is headquartered in Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.

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Education
9:55 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Despite Campaign Focus, Texas Pre-K Won't Likely Expand Soon

Robert W. Hart

Over half of Texas children between the ages of three and four don't go to preschool, according to the annual Kids Count report released this week from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Texas schools offer free pre-K programs to 4-year-olds, but primarily only offer programs for 3-year-olds on a tuition basis. Those low numbers and access have drawn scrutiny from education advocates, lawmakers and even the candidates running for governor.

Despite the recent focus on preschool access for Texas children, efforts to expand access may to wait until after the upcoming legislative session.

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