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.

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen will be out in public again this evening with her financial chief, Nicole Conley-Abram, trying to explain the school district's budget situation and take input from the public.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Superintendents and school board members from across the state will try to increase pressure on the Legislature this afternoon to limit cuts to public education. The Make Education A Priority rally is scheduled for 2 pm on the south steps of the Capitol.

"I think generally, what we're looking for is for legislators to really look at addressing the school finance system that was reformed back in 2006," Texas Association of School Boards spokesperson Dax Gonzales told KUT News. "That's where a lot of the problems stem from."

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The pink slips have already been sent to hundreds of employees in the Austin Independent School District. Tonight, the nine men and women on the AISD board of trustees will vote on whether to officially enact those job cuts. At the same time, a year-long process to develop a master plan for school district facilities will reach its culmination when board members are asked to approve the 10-year plan.

Both issues are highly contentious because of their broad implications for employees, students, and parents.

Photo by Forty Two

About 280 employees in the Round Rock Independent School District began learning this afternoon that they will no longer be employed next school year. RRISD is facing an estimated $60 million reduction in state funding.

Districts in Texas are required to notify contracted employees within 45 days of the end of the school year if they are losing their jobs. Austin ISD, the largest school district in Central Texas, has said it is eliminating more than 1,100 positions. RRISD is the second largest district in the region.

Photo by KUT News

Southwest Key, a national non-profit that operates a charter school in East Austin, is offering to lease Eastside Memorial High School and operate a prep academy in the building. Eastside Memorial currently houses a Global Tech High School and a Green Tech High School.  The Green Tech High was the only school in Austin ISD to be ranked "academically unacceptable" last year by the Texas Education Agency.

"That school has been low-performing for 11 or 12 consecutive years," communications consultant Paul Saldaña told KUT News. Saldaña's firm, Brisa Communications, is advocating on behalf of Southwest Key.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

State Senators writing a spending plan for Texas approved a measure yesterday that would soften the blow to public education.  The initial budget bill called for a cut of almost $10 billion. Senator Florence Shapiro said school districts cannot absorb that punch.

Photo by KUT News

School districts across Texas are in the sticky situation of trying to calibrate their spending for the next year without knowing exactly how deeply the state will cut public education. The largest school district in Central Texas, Austin ISD, will hold the first of two public hearings tonight to seek public input on how it should manage a projected $94 million shortfall, even though a large portion of that deficit has already been slashed through the elimination of more than 1,100 jobs.

Photo by e-magic

Six Republican State Senators stood side by side this morning at the Capitol and proclaimed that the budget can be cut in Texas, even education, without affecting the classroom.  Senator Florence Shapiro says she has filed legislation that would make it easier for districts to relinquish themselves of administrative staff.

University of Texas students concerned about cuts to financial aid programs and skyrocketing tuition costs took to the streets this afternoon.

Dozens of people wearing “Invest in Texas” t-shirts and carrying handmade signs marched from the Student Activity Center to the Capitol, shouting slogans in support of higher education. 

Anti-Bully Pulpit

Mar 22, 2011
Photo by KUT News

A Texas Senate committee looked at legislation that would change definitions and solutions for bullying and cyber bullying issues. Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) authored a bill that provides the removal of a bully to another classroom or campus at the request of the victim. Currently, the student-victim of the bullying is moved.

Photo by Nicholas James Santiago

After announcing yesterday that the Leander Independent School District should consider eliminating 250 positions to close a projected $29 million shortfall, Leander ISD Superintendent Bret Champion will make his case to the school board tonight. The meeting is slated to begin at 6:15 p.m.

Photo by ydhsu

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. 

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

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.

Image courtesy AMagill

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.