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.

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.

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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.” 

The Senate Finance Committee looks at education spending today. / Image by KUT News

Education is on the front burner for a state senate committee today.

The Senate Education Committee will tackle education funding this morning, as they continue to craft their version of a budget bill.  Officials from the Texas Education Agency will answer lawmakers' questions about the money needs on a statewide level and how that will trickle down to individual school districts.

Image by KUT News

Rolling blackouts are affecting schools in the Austin Independent School District, which opted not to cancel classes today. The district currently has no plans to release students early this afternoon.

"Austin ISD, like the rest of the city, is affected by the rolling outages," AISD spokesperson Carmen Luevanos told KUT News. "At any one point, we have approximately 20 campuses that are out [of power]. We have approximately 120 campuses [total]."

Image by KUT

No more naming schools names for possible closure. That's the decision of an Austin ISD task force responsible for coming up with options for the district's facilities. This Facility Master Plan task force began meeting last Spring. It was supposed to develop a list of options for the district to manage its facilities: its schools, its offices, its warehouses, that kind of thing. But the process was quickly interrupted by parents last month who were traumatized when a draft list of options began naming specific schools as facilities that could be closed.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

With the state budget leaders proposing to cut as much as $10 billion from public education to help close a state budget gap of between $15 and $27 billion, Education Commissioner Robert Scott warned hundreds of school administrators gathered in Austin this afternoon that Texas is facing the most difficult legislative session for public education in his lifetime.

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Parents who have children in Zilker Elementary will march from their school to a lot next to Austin's Pizza on South Lamar Boulevard tomorrow. They are trying to raise awareness about a draft proposal by an Austin school district task force that could see Zilker closed and the children bussed to other facilities.

Image courtesy Eliazar Parra Cardenas

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott relesed educational materials on to credit card and debt to the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The materials, created by the Attorney General’s Office, will be introduced during UTSA’s new student orientation.  In 2007, Texas lawmakers passed a law requiring state colleges and universities to educate students about managing personal finances and to prevent potential debt problems.

The Austin Independent School District is discussing four more options for possible school closures. Becker, Blackshear, Dawson and Govalle elementary schools have been added to the list of schools that could be considered for closure, and Garcia elementary could be re-purposed as school for 4th-8th graders.