2:59 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Gov. Perry Wants to Fast Track Vocational Certification in Texas

Gov. Rick Perry announced the creation of a Skilled Workforce Initiatve Tuesday.
KUT News

Governor Perry announced his intention Tuesday to launch a Skilled Workforce Initiative in Texas to address demand for certified, highly-skilled workers in the manufacturing sector.

The initiative would reduce the time it takes for students to earn vocational certification in certain high-demand fields, such as manufacturing and industrial business. Under the initiative, certification programs will award credit to students who enter the program already possessing some experience and skills necessary for certification.  Backers hope the program will allow students to get certified and begin filling jobs more quickly, while also saving them time and money by allowing them to bypass lessons on subjects they’ve already mastered.

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6:56 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Texas School Districts, Charters Are Finalists in Federal Competition

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

By the end of the year, a few Texas school districts may have access to millions in funding that Gov. Rick Perry had passed on two years ago because of concerns about federal intrusion into Texas classrooms.

Since Texas refused to participate in Race to the Top at the state level in 2010, the Obama administration has rolled out a new version of its signature education program to allow districts to apply individually for a separate pot of about $400 million in federal money. Administration officials announced the new round of competition that would emphasize data-driven personalized student learning plans in 2011, after three phases of the state-based contest.

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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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1:30 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

UT-Austin Med School Plans Proceed After Election

First year resident Karthik Mekala, MD, watches Chief Maryam Ayaz, MD, check on a patient at UMC Brackenridge.
Callie Richmond via Texas Tribune

Despite its glowing reputation, Austin has faced a gap when compared with other major metropolitan areas: the lack of a medical school and the cutting-edge research it can provide.

But that gap appears to be closing after Travis County voters approved a five-cent property tax hike this month to help finance a plan to overhaul the region’s approach to health care — including the construction of a research-intensive medical school that will be affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin.

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4:15 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

There's Oil on Them Thar Campuses!

Students in environmental science professor Jeffery Stone's class watch as a seismic shaker truck rolls through Indiana State University's campus.
Tony Campbell Courtesy of Indiana State University

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 5:14 pm

Imagine going to college and finding an oil rig on campus. That's becoming increasingly likely as oil and gas companies use a controversial technique commonly referred to as fracking to extract resources from land underneath campuses across the country.

Environmental science professor Jeffery Stone will never forget the day the earth shook on Indiana State University's campus in Terre Haute.

"They did it like in eight-second pulses, and you could feel the whole sidewalk wobble like an earthquake almost," Stone says.

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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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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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Round Rock ISD
5:04 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Beyond 'Abstinence Only:' Round Rock School Board Revisits Sex Ed (Update)

Round Rock ISD is dicussing bringing contraceptives talk into the classroom.

Update: The proposal addressing sex education standards has been withdrawn from the Round Rock school board agenda, according to the Austin American-Statesman. It writes that the health advisory committee that recommended the change was improperly assembled. It's uncertain at this time when (or if) the proposal will return for consideration.

Original post (11:57 a.m.): The Round Rock Independent School District’s Board of Education will be meeting tonight and sex education is on the agenda.

The board will discuss an implementation plan to teach students about contraceptives, a break from current "abstinence only" standards.

The discussion started back in August when the board received the School Health Advisory Committee’s annual report that recommended contraceptives be introduced at the eighth-grade level.

The board met again in October. Health professionals provided the board with data that indicated the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases is increasing in Round Rock, compared with surrounding communities.

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University of Texas
12:49 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

UT System Approves $102 Million Office in Downtown Austin

There's a new tower coming to UT: a nine-story office building downtown. (You're safe, Main Building.)
KUT News

A major new tenant is moving into downtown Austin: not a hot new tech company, but the University of Texas System.

Today the UT Board of Regents approved construction of a nine-story, $102 million building and parking structure downtown “to consolidate UT System offices.” According to a press release, the system’s buildings are currently “located in five antiquated buildings,” and despite the hefty price tag, regents say the consolidation will save money in the long run: between $60 million and $240 million, in UT’s admittedly imprecise math.

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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.

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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7:13 am
Tue November 13, 2012

UT System May Construct $100 Million Austin Office

A view towards downtown Austin from the UT Tower.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The University of Texas System Board of Regents will meet in Tyler this week and consider, among many things, whether to approve the construction of a system office building in downtown Austin that is projected to cost $102,417,000.

The UT System's downtown Austin offices are currently spread across five aging buildings — the oldest has been around for more than 130 years — with mounting maintenance costs. Officials determined that a change was in order. They decided that the best option would be to construct a 16-story building comprising 258,500 square feet of office space and garage capacity for more than 650 vehicles in a spot — close to the state Capitol and the University of Texas at Austin — where two of their current buildings sit.

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11:21 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Help Your Kids Learn About Homeless People Saturday

Homeless people standing in line at Caritas
KUT News

What do you say to your kid when you’re stopped at a traffic light on the I-35 frontage road and they ask why that person is holding a sign asking for money? It’s a question that Amber Fogarty gets a lot. She’s been a homeless advocate in Austin for the last eight years.

“I tell them to be honest,” Fogarty says. “I also tell them that if they don’t know how to be honest, to try to find the answers.”

Fogarty is helping to organize an event this Saturday she hopes will provide some of those answers. The ECHO Family Festival will give children a chance to put together hygiene kits that will be distributed by Mobile Loaves and Fishes.

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1:33 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

UT Moves Forward on Med School

UT President Bill Powers speaking at a news conference today about the passage of Proposition 1
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Now that Proposition 1 has passed, the University of Texas is moving ahead with plans for its new medical school.

UT officials held a press conference this morning about a possible timeline for the complex. University President Bill Powers said with an aggressive approach, the first freshman class could start as soon as 2015. “This isn’t off in the 2020s,” Powers said. “We might take a little breather today and start tomorrow on all the processes. We’d like to break ground within a year.”

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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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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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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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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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7:15 am
Mon November 5, 2012

State College Funding Turns on Definition of 'Provide'

About 13 percent of UT's expenses are provided by the state.
Liang Shi for KUT News

The Texas Constitution says the state will “provide for the maintenance, support and direction of a University of the first class.”

In 1984, that meant about half of every dollar in higher education came out of the state budget. Today, it’s closer to 13 percent at the University of Texas at Austin and 22 percent at Texas A&M University in College Station.

So, at that level, is the state really providing for the sort of education championed in its founding document?

That’s fodder for debate. Lawyers could probably generate a room full of words over the obligations imparted by the word “provide.” The bigger question is whether the state is doing enough, and whether doing enough — whatever that entails — necessarily requires more money.

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Texas A&M
5:02 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Texas A&M Police Searching for Armed Suspect

Update 5:36pm: Texas A&M officials say they still have not located an armed suspect, but students can go about their normal activities, but "remain cautious" while the investigation continues.

Earlier Update: The latest from A&M: "UPD is asking that everyone in the vicinity of the incident remain indoors until the all clear issued via Code Maroon. UPD continues to search the area for the suspect."

Original Post (4:57 p.m.): Texas A&M has issued a “Code Maroon” warning of an armed suspect on campus.

At 4:43 p.m. CST,  A&M’s public safety account tweeted “Code Maroon Armed subject described as white male, late 40's, light hair, lime green short sleeve shirt, jeans.”

Additional information posed on the A&M emergency website reads “Looks like a wooden handled hand gun. Last seen heading in the direction of Sanders Corps Center.”

7:47 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Automatic Admission to UT Getting More Difficult

Some future students will have to rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class for automatic admission.
KUT News

The class rank requirements for automatic admission into the University of Texas at Austin are getting more stringent.

UT President Bill Powers says that for the Summer/Fall of 2014 and Spring of 2015, UT will automatically admit Texas seniors who rank in the top 7 percent of their high school class.

That’s down from the top 9 percent this Fall/Spring and the top 8 percent next Fall/Spring.

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