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 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.

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.

Photo by Dragon Cheer

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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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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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Classes at Austin Community College will be a little more expensive next year.

The ACC Board of Trustees cite declining state funding as the reason for the increase of $5 per credit hour for Fall 2011.  That means that students in the ACC taxation district would pay $52 per credit hour.  Out-of-district students tuition will rise to $194 per hour.  The board already voted to raise tuition for Summer semester by another $5 per hour.  They also expect they'll have to raise tuition again for Spring 2012.

Dr. Richard Rhodes was named the lone finalist last night to become CEO and president of Austin Community College. The ACC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve Rhodes. He is currently the president of El Paso Community College.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

An anti-bullying bill that passed Texas Senate today would require school districts to adopt a policy to prohibit, prevent and investigate bullying, both in person and online.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Independent School District took a big step last night toward building a district-wide performing arts center. They agreed to buy a 4.5 acre, $4 million plot of land near the Dell Children’s Medical Center to construct the building.  But that construction might not begin for several years.

The Austin ISD has been trying to build a performing arts center for decades.  But over the past few months, board members have been forced to grapple with a financial crisis.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

The University of Texas System should avoid separating research and teaching and should continue to fund "soft" research into cultural or opinion-based topics, according to a letter submitted to the Board of Regents today by three large UT student groups.

The presidents of UT's Senate of College Councils, UT Student Government, and UT's Graduate Student Assembly are wading into a controversial debate that has ratcheted up tensions between Governor Rick Perry and legions of UT supporters. At issue is how to lower costs and increase efficiency at public universities in Texas.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

A contentious calculation used by the state to measure academic performance at schools will be abandoned, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott announced today. The Texas Projection Measure (TPM) counted some students as passing, even if they failed, as long as they were algorithmically predicted to pass in the future. TPM had long drawn the ire of conservative business leaders, minority education activists and progressive policy groups.

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Two more elementary schools will offer dual language programs in the Austin Independent School District this fall. Sunset Valley Elementary and Travis Heights Elementary will join Becker, Ridgetop, Perez and Wooten elementary schools. The program will be offered to Pre-K and first grade students only, and will expand as students age.

With Central Texas superintendents shedding portions of their salaries to share the pain of public school cuts, we thought it would be interesting to compare their base salaries. We then broke it down on a dollar per student basis.  Continue reading for an interactive graph.

Photo of RRISD website by KUT News

Facing a projected budget deficit of $61 million, the Round Rock Independent School District has explained how it plans to eliminate $40.7 million of that shortfall. A prioritized list of 64 specific cuts would reduce the deficit to about $20 million. That remaining gap would be covered by RRISD's fund balance, a savings account that holds about $200 million.

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Some investors believe that buying gold is a good hedge against inflation.  If that's the case, then the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO) may be protected for some time.