Education

Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

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The sweeping state budget cuts that are prompting public school districts to lay off teachers in droves could discourage university graduates from entering the teaching field, according to a University of Texas educational researcher. 

"That's one of the things I really worry about," said Ed Fuller, a teacher retention researcher at the University of Texas at Austin's College of Education. "Because I think these cuts are going to send a message to people that education is not a profession to go into."

Photo by KUT News

Teachers, school officials, parents and students from across the state are once again flocking to the State Capitol today.  They’re jumping off the momentum from the thousands who showed up for an education rally on Saturday.  Monday's lobby day for the Texas American Federation of Teachers.  People will be handing out sardine cans to legislators. 

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It's not often that state lawmakers admit they don't like the bill they just filed, but that's exactly what State Rep. Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) did today after filing HB 2485.  The bill is accompanied by a spreadsheet that shows how drastic cuts to public education would affect individual school districts.

"We'll be laying out a budget that cuts $9.8 billion out of the schools.  But that's a number that doesn't mean anything to a legislator unless they know that means you're taking between $500 and $2,500 dollars per WADA (weighted average daily attendance) out of their local district," Hochberg said.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

 

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees last night opted not to adopt a plan to pay contract educators $10,000 for resigning voluntarily, reports Community Impact News.

According to Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, the board's recommendation stems from the possibility of AISD paying both incentive packages and unemployment insurance benefits, which would not save the district money.

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In an effort to alleviate the pain inflicted by deleting more than 1,100 jobs, Austin School Trustees will consider a proposal tonight that would offer $10,000 lump sum payouts to teachers who resign voluntarily. The money would be provided in lieu of unemployment benefits of up to $10,790 per employee. A similar plan enacted in Dallas has proven popular, but AISD could be hindered by its advance notification of employees whose jobs are up for elimination.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

After a year of meetings and rancorous debate, the Austin ISD school board on Monday night will receive a ten year plan the recommends how it manage its buildings, athletic centers, and other facilities.

The Facility Master Plan Task Force's discussion about how the district could save money by closing and consolidating campuses sparked off a wave of protests, mostly by inner city parents flabbergasted that their high-performing schools would even be mentioned for closure.

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

After a marathon board meeting, Austin School Trustees voted in the wee morning hours to declare the district to be in a state of financial exigency. The declaration will give Superintendent Meria Carstarphen more power to reduce AISD's projected budget deficit of $94 million.

Austin school board members will be asked to vote Monday night on a resolution that would declare the district to be in a state of "financial exigency", or "financial emergency" in common English. Such a move would grant more flexible staffing powers to Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who has proposed laying off more than 1,000 people to help close the school district's budget deficit, currently estimated to be in the neighborhood of $94 million.

Image by Liang Shi for KUT News

Hard times may be coming to The University of Texas at Austin, based on projected spending cuts from the Legislature.

UT President Bill Powers told the campus that budget items in both the House and Senate versions of the 2012-2013 biennial budget cut funding to the school by $100 million.  Since 2009, UT has cut $14.5 million from its budget in response to state mandates, with the cuts primarily made to administrative operations.  Powers is scheduled to testify before the Senate Finance Ccommittee about higher education spending March 2.

Photo by KUT News

The Austin Independent School District has proposed cutting an additional 92 jobs, bringing to 1,104 the number of jobs that could be cut to close an expected budget shortfall.  AISD is bracing for a budget gap that could range from $94 million to $113 million.

"It’s hard to say exactly what the shortfall is, but when you have such a large percentage of your operation’s cost being paying for people, you’re not left with a lot of choices,” Trustee Robert Schneider told KUT News.

Image by KUT News

As students and parents struggle to fill out the FAFSA form to pay for college next year, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of some companies offering scholarship or financial aid money. The businesses reportedly claim that they will be able to provide help in securing some scholarships and potential financial aid. Last year, the BBB received nearly 400 complaints nationwide from students and parents by scholarship and financial aid companies.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Financial aid for graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin could be slashed because of state cuts to higher education, UT Austin's chief academic officer Steven Leslie testified this morning.

Austin school district employees who may lose their jobs next school year will be notified by the end of today. A proposal by Superintendent Meria Carstarphen would eliminate 1,012 positions for an annual savings of $53.6 million.

The list of job cuts released by the district is difficult to read, so we have attempted to clarify what Carstarphen is proposing with this data app.  Click on "High School", "Middle School", "Elementary School", etc to see a breakdown by campus or department in the second box. This is an early attempt of ours to develop a data app, so please offer us your feedback in the comments.  

Photo by KUT News

Round Rock ISD is looking to the public for some ideas on reducing its budget.

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Enrollment growth at Austin Community College's spring semester grew by ten percent, according to ACC, setting a new enrollment record of 45,056. The college says most of the growth came from people aged 25 and older.

Hispanic enrollment at ACC increased sixteen percent to almost 12,000. African-American enrollment was up seven percent to just under 4,000.

ACC president and CEO Stephen Kinslow is using the announcement to make a point about proposed state funding cuts to community colleges.

Photo by Erika Aguilar for KUT News.

Parents whose children attend Joslin Elementary marched around the school in South Austin Saturday to urge Austin school board members to keep it open.  Such rallies are becoming the norm for Austin weekends, at least since the AISD Facilities Task Force released initial options for closing schools. Thirteen schools were named, but the task force is doing things differently now. It's no longer naming schools.

AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen (file photo) is proposing the elimination of over 1,000 district jobs. / Photo by KUT News.

 

Grappling with a budget deficit currently projected at $114 million, Austin Independent School District Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will recommend school trustees eliminate 1,017 of its almost 12,000 positions.

Carstarphen was absent from an afternoon news conference to announce the proposal, because she was in New York City, according to district officials.  AISD human resources official Michael Houser spoke to the media in her absence.

An Austin school district task force will submit a draft report to school board members Monday. The report looks at how the district could use facilities more efficiently, and raises it includes the option of school closures Read the 320-page report for yourself below. You can also view fullscreen or download on this page (look for the Download button).

Courtesy UT-Austin.

University of Texas at Austin President William Powers has been hospitalized.  University officials say Powers was admitted today for treatment of a blockage in an artery leading to his lungs.  The pulmonary embolism was found during a medical exam this morning. 

"They just want to keep him in the hospital for three days, and just monitor it and make sure it goes away.  And he's doing fine," said Nancy Brazzil, a deputy to the President.

Powers was scheduled to speak to a legislative committee tomorrow morning about higher education and the state budget.

Image courtesy AISD

Last Friday found most Austin school children playing in a winter wonderland, enjoying a rare snow day.  But now comes the payback:  The Austin Independent School District has scheduled classes for Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, to make up for that lost curriculum day.

“Every single year, we build in bad weather days on the school calendars, so everybody knows what they are,” said Kathy Anthony, communication specialist at AISD. “But we don’t use them every year.” 

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