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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10:44 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Study: New Discipline Methods Could Benefit Schools

National Honor Students Zach Calkins and Aaron Gonzales, seniors at Brandeis High School, read to kindergarten students in a crowded classroom at Wanke Elementary School in San Antonio, Friday, March 9, 2012.
Jennifer Whitley via Texas Tribune

Ahead of a joint meeting Tuesday of the Senate education and criminal justice committees that will address school discipline, a new study suggests that adjusting disciplinary policy could improve results at Texas public schools while saving money at the same time.

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Texas A&M
4:40 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Texas A&M Aims to Measure Student Success and Cost Effiency

Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), Chairman of Senate Higher Education Committee
Brandon Mulder

Today Texas A&M officials announced EmpowerU, a program aimed at monitoring the system’s efficiency at graduating its students.

Essentially, EmpowerU is A&M’s new public analytical website. It aggregates statistics of all student progress, and presents its data online. The idea is that individual institutions will set their own goals for improvement. EmpowerU’s website will publicly hold them accountable to quality of education and cost efficiency, benchmarking peer institutions against each other.

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1:34 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

AISD Debt-To-Student Ratio Among Lowest in Central Texas

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

As the Austin Independent School District gets ready to ask voters to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in borrowing next May, figures published by the Texas Comptroller today show the district has one of the the lowest per-student debt rates among Austin-area school districts.

That said, AISD also has the most debt of any district in the area, at $809,435,850. But calculated on a per-student basis, AISD’s outstanding debt it is $9,492. The Austin school district also has the lowest debt per capita of $1,272.

A lot depends on how you define “Central Texas.” Lockhart ISD, for example, has a lower debt-to-student ratio of just $5,565.75. You will find lower debt ratios in some of the outlying, more rural districts in the region, like Granger ISD, Florence ISD, and Prarie Lea ISD, which has no debt at all. (It also has a student population of 232.)

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