Education

Education
12:25 pm
Tue June 7, 2011

Austin ISD Will Close for a Week in July to Save Energy

A view from Austin ISD's headquarters on W. 6th St.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

No one really needs an excuse to take a week off in the summer, but the cash-strapped Austin Independent School District says it will save $471,000 by shutting schools and offices for five workdays in July.

All schools and offices will be closed from July 4-8. They will otherwise be on a four-day work week from June 27 to July 25. Employees will still have to put in their 40 hours during that time frame by working flexible ten-hour shifts.

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Education
10:55 am
Tue June 7, 2011

Report: Harmony Charter Schools Favor Turkish Contractors

A teacher instructs a student at a Harmony Charter School in North Houston.
Photo by Wenjing Zhang, Texas Tribune

The largest charter school operator in Texas, Harmony Charter Schools, has come under the scrupulous microscope of the New York Times.  The paper published a front page, top-of-the-fold blowout on Harmony’s links to the Gulen movement, a Turkish religious group.

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Education
2:39 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Public Education Supporters Protest Under Capitol Dome

Protestors in the Texas State Capitol this afternoon.
Photo by Hannah Jones for KUT News

Dozens of teachers, parents, students and public education advocates protested underneath the Capitol Dome today, urging state lawmakers to spend more of the Rainy Day Fund to reduce cuts to school districts.

“We have got to keep making noise, because it’s raining and that’s an ugly bill,” Louis Malfaro with the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers told the crowd. “So we say, ‘Fund our schools or don’t come back!’”

Protestors repeated the chant and it echoed throughout the cavernous rotunda.

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Education
12:27 pm
Mon June 6, 2011

Highland Mall Land Could Soon Be 100 Percent Owned by ACC

Highland Mall is filled with vacant retail space like this former Dillard's location. By August, Austin Community College could own 100 percent of the land beneath the mall.
Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Land underneath the beleaguered Highland Mall could soon be under complete ownership of Austin Community College. ACC signed a $16 million deal for the former JC Penney and the surrounding parking lot.

It’s important to distinguish land ownership from building ownership.  ACC would possess all the property beneath the mall, but it would only own three of the four former department stores: the Dillard’s women’s store, Macy’s and JC Penney buildings.

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Education
12:30 pm
Fri June 3, 2011

Now You Can Live Stream AISD High School Graduation Online

Photo of AISD's website by KUT News

For the first time ever, Austin ISD is live streaming this week’s graduation ceremonies on its website.

“We’re doing it for family members who may be out of town and can’t be present at the graduation,” AISD spokesperson Kathy Anthony told KUT News. “Or for teachers, for instance, who are back their campuses and not attending graduation and want to watch the proceedings.”

A link to the live stream is posted on AISD’s front page. Today's ceremonies got underway at noon at the Frank Erwin Center.

Here is the schedule:

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Education
11:13 am
Thu June 2, 2011

Austin ISD Gets $4.6 Million For All-Boys School

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

After months of talk about creating an all-boys version of the Anne Richards School for Young Women Leaders, the Austin Independent School District says it is getting $4.6 million over seven years from the Moody Foundation to help create a School for Young Men.

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Education
12:18 pm
Wed June 1, 2011

Who's Not Graduating From AISD This Week?

Austin ISD headquarters.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Hundreds of students in the Austin Independent School District will mark a major milestone this week when they walk down the aisle and receive their high school diplomas. Unfortunately, some teenagers won't get to participate because they failed to meet graduation requirements. 

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Education
5:03 pm
Thu May 26, 2011

TEA Releases Statewide TAKS Results

Texas Education Agency headquarters on Congress Ave. near 17th St.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

It’s the last full year that the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills will be administered to students in this state before a new standardized test takes it place, and the Texas Education Agency is heralding the exam as a resounding success.

TEA released statewide results today, and said passing rates on every test in every grade level improved dramatically since the exam was first given in 2003.

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Education
10:15 am
Tue May 24, 2011

AISD Board Approves Facility Plan Timeline

Photo by KUT News

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees has approved a timeline for finishing the district’s controversial Facility Master Plan. At a meeting Monday night, the board okayed the timeline set out by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. 

A report presented to the board in March by a citizens’ task force suggested closing as many as nine schools.

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Education
4:36 pm
Mon May 23, 2011

School? On Memorial Day?!

A bus much like this one will take Austin ISD students to school this Memorial Day to make up for a snow day last February.
Photo by KUT News.

A note to those students (and maybe some teachers and staff) who were celebrating a snow day in Austin last February 4th: It's time to pay the piper.

Memorial Day, May 30th, is a "bad weather make-up day" for the Austin School District. All district schools will be open to make up for the day that was lost during the epic around-an-inch of snowfall that hit the area last February.

Education
4:22 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

Austin’s LASA Scores High In National School Ranking

Students in the Liberal Arts and Science Program at LBJ High School
Photo by Austin ISD

The magnet program at LBJ High School, the Liberal Arts and Science Academy (LASA), is the highest ranked Austin high school in a new national ranking.  LASA placed 29th out of more than 1,900 public schools nation-wide. 

The Washington Post’s Jay Matthews ranked high schools across the country using the so-called Challenge Index, which the Post says is a relatively simple measure.

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Education
3:32 pm
Fri May 20, 2011

New AISD Facilities Master Plan Would Include Dissenting Views

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen is trying to resurrect a ten-year plan for managing school district facilities by including a wider range of input.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The woman in charge of the Austin Independent School District is trying to resurrect a ten-year grand strategy for managing the 12 million square feet of AISD buildings and other facilities.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen held a work session with the school board on Monday to try and hash out what changes should be made to the existing Facilities Master Plan to make it more politically palatable. The current plan, adopted by the board in March, was set aside by school board members in large part because it included an option to close nine schools.

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Education
2:15 pm
Wed May 18, 2011

Federal Cash Saves 140 Jobs in Round Rock ISD

A pep rally at Round Rock High School in 2007
Photo by Dragon Cheer http://www.flickr.com/photos/dragoncheer/

Remember a couple months ago when the Round Rock Independent School District said it was going to lay off 280 employees? That number has been cut in half, thanks to almost $6.9 million from the federal government. You can view a table of what RRISD intends to the spend the money on its website.

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Education
12:23 pm
Wed May 18, 2011

AISD Takes Steps To Sell Downtown Headquarters and Baker Center

AISD's downtown headquarters sits on 2.75 acres of prime real estate off W. 6th St.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Facing a budget crisis, the Austin Independent School District is taking initial steps to sell two of its largest administrative properties: the 2.75 acre headquarters that sits on prime real estate on upscale W. 6th St., and the 4.4 acre Baker Center in trendy Hyde Park.

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Education
7:21 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

Austin ISD Superintendent Seeks To Revive Facilities Master Plan

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen (left) speaks with school board members Lori Moya and Vince Torres during tonight's meeting.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin public schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen is attempting to pick up and dust off a politically risky facilities master plan that was reluctantly accepted this spring by the nine elected volunteers who govern the largest school district in Central Texas.

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Education
6:19 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

What $7.8 Billion Less Looks Like for Your District

Photo by Ryan Murphy, Morgan Smith and Todd Wiseman

Whether final reductions to the state public education spending end up closer to $7.8 billion or $4 billion, how much districts will individually bear depends on how — or if — the Legislature rethinks the state’s school finance system. 

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Education
12:37 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

A&M Chancellor Steps Down

The chancellor of the Texas A&M System announced his resignation today.
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/sarowen

Mike McKinney, the Chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, announced today that he'll step down as of July 1, 2011.

McKinney became A&M System chancellor in November 2006. Since then, system-wide enrollment in has increased from 103,000 students to almost 120,000 students.

“The 25 million taxpayers in the state of Texas certainly have received a significant return on their investment in the A&M System,” said McKinney in a letter to A&M employees.

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Education
12:53 pm
Mon May 9, 2011

Austin ISD Board To Mull Historic Tax Exemptions Tonight

This map shows the location of historic landmarks in Austin. The school board is getting ready to decide whether to reinstate a program that gives tax breaks to the owners of those properties.
Image courtesy Austin ISD

Until last summer, if you lived in a home that was deemed to be a historical landmark, you could get a big break on your school property tax bill. That came to an end in August 2010, when the Austin ISD school board decided to suspend those exemptions in the face of a looming fiscal crisis. Tonight, the board is scheduled to talk about whether to reinstate the program.

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Education
5:06 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

Remembering Shirley Bird Perry

Photo by Liang Shi for KUT News

The University of Texas at Austin community is mourning the loss of senior vice president Shirley Bird Perry- who passed away Wednesday of cancer. She was 74.

After graduating from UT in the 1950s, Shirley Bird Perry started her career as program director of the Texas Union student center. She also served over a decade as a vice chancellor with the UT System.

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Education
4:16 pm
Thu May 5, 2011

UT System Releases Data on Faculty "Productivity"

Photo by KUT News

This afternoon, the University of Texas System released much-anticipated data on faculty "productivity" — noting, however, that the 821-page spreadsheet is in a raw draft form that has not been fully verified and "cannot yield accurate analysis, interpretations or conclusions."

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