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Education

Voters to weigh Austin district’s $1.05 billion single-proposition bond

Voters to weigh Austin district’s $1.05 billion single-proposition bond

Austin voters in November will weigh a $1.05 billion, single-proposition Austin school bond package. Funds from the bond package would rebuild several campuses, construct new schools and target overcrowding in pockets of the 83,000-student district. Among the most contentious projects in the package is the relocation of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy out of LBJ High School and into the former...
UT faces new lawsuit over role of race in admissions policy

UT faces new lawsuit over role of race in admissions policy

The use of racial and ethnic preferences in admissions at the University of Texas violates state law and the Texas Constitution, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a group whose leader who took a similar case to the U.S. Supreme Court twice and lost. This time, Edward Blum has set his sights on the state courts of Texas rather than making another run at the federal courts. The Supreme Court upheld...
Austin school board calls for $1.05 billion November bond package

Austin school board calls for $1.05 billion November bond package

The Austin school board Monday night called for a $1.05 billion bond package to be placed before voters in November. The bond projects, rolled into one proposition, total $1.13 billion, but trustees plan to apply $83.8 million in projected leftover bond funds and possible land sales of East Austin schools to reduce the total package amount. Despite exceeding the $1 billion cap that several trustees...
Austin ISD could shutter East Austin schools to keep bond under $1B

Austin ISD could shutter East Austin schools to keep bond under $1B

The Austin school district could shutter a handful of East Austin schools to bring down the costs of the proposed bond package that trustees are expected to approve tonight. Multiple school properties could be sold in the next five years to lower the bond project costs to under $1 billion, according to district documents obtained by the American-Statesman. A line item in other bond package documents...
Minority groups threaten to oppose $990 million Austin ISD bond plan

Minority groups threaten to oppose $990 million Austin ISD bond plan

The Austin school board tonight is slated to call for a November bond election, putting before voters more than $990 million worth of bond projects packaged into one proposition. As it was last week, this meeting could become heated as some community members plan to rally against the package in its current form. Latino and black community leaders have said the bond in its current form is inequitable...
Emails chart how ‘Mad Men’ archive landed at UT’s Ransom Center

Emails chart how ‘Mad Men’ archive landed at UT’s Ransom Center

An archive of props, clothing, scripts and abandoned story lines from a TV series might not seem at first blush to embody the literary, cultural or artistic significance of the Gutenberg Bible, Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” or any number of other holdings at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center. But the “Mad Men&rdquo...
Commentary: On school bonds, it’s time to go in for all of Austin

Commentary: On school bonds, it’s time to go in for all of Austin

When your school district includes 130 buildings with an average age of 46 years, major renovations will be in order. It is time for Austin to go all in for a school bond that declares our commitment to education across the whole city. The current proposed bond package serves some areas well, neglects others, and doesn’t do enough to address the loss of students to charter schools and Austin...
Viewpoints: Legislature should end illusion and provide real tax cuts

Viewpoints: Legislature should end illusion and provide real tax cuts

To successfully pull off their stunts and tricks before audiences, great magicians employ the art of misdirection. The same is true for some politicians, such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has crafted a clever misdirection in the form of Senate Bill 2. Patrick, a Houston Republican, claims the measure “would bring about the largest property tax reform in history,” and in so doing...
Anti-bullying program for students draws praise

Anti-bullying program for students draws praise

Damion Govea, 12, knows the good kids from the bad at Metro Elementary School of Design. He’s been in class with them long enough to tell them apart, he said. Damion is a good kid. And for his good behavior, he was cherry-picked from his homeroom class to participate in an anti-bullying program that grouped them all together for one hour, once a week from March through the end of the school...
PolitiFact: 52% of state spending goes to education

PolitiFact: 52% of state spending goes to education

After Dan Patrick cited a statistic to back his contention that Texas state government spends plenty on education, a reader asked us to check the Republican lieutenant governor’s accuracy. Patrick, in a June newspaper commentary, extolled the state budget signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, specifying: “Texas spends $60 billion on schools in our two-year budget, including both federal...
New Austin charter school gets state approval to open three campuses

New Austin charter school gets state approval to open three campuses

The State Board of Education on Friday gave a charter school permission to open three new campuses in Austin, likely pulling students from the Austin school district, which has for years endured declining enrollment. The state panel last approved a new charter school for Austin in 2014, although existing charter schools — which are privately run public schools — have opened new campuses...
Commentary: West Texas figures out why Abbott hates on public schools

Commentary: West Texas figures out why Abbott hates on public schools

My hero this week is Graydon Hicks, Fort Davis superintendent of schools. A West Texas publication published his open letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick raking them over the coals for “the lack of positive legislative action for public schools in Texas” at the most recent session, which adjourned at the end of May without passing a school finance bill. Hicks is a West...
Viewpoints: AISD trustees should take more time to call bond election

Viewpoints: AISD trustees should take more time to call bond election

The Austin school board on Monday is expected to call for a November election on a bond package that at least for now totals nearly $1.1 billion and is clouded by uncertainty. Trustees should delay the vote. Several factors warrant slowing the process. Some projects the board is weighing, such as relocating Eastside Memorial High School to the Old Anderson campus and creating a new medical magnet...
NEW NOW: New Austin charter school wins approval of state panel

NEW NOW: New Austin charter school wins approval of state panel

The State Board of Education on Friday approved a charter school to open three new campuses over a five-year period in north and south Austin. The state panel hasn’t approved a suite of new charter schools, which are privately-run public schools, in Austin since 2014 even though existing charter schools have opened new campuses throughout the city since then. Officials with Valor Public Schools...
For low-income families in Central Texas, summer brings added strain

For low-income families in Central Texas, summer brings added strain

School may be out for summer, but at lunchtime on a recent Thursday at Travis High School dozens of children and teenagers packed into the cafeteria to scoop up such options as chicken lime tacos, veggie dippers and chocolate milk before taking their seats at long tables in the cafeteria. By the end of summer, Austin Independent School District officials expect to serve more than 150,000 meals at...
Commentary: Why healthy children’s meals should be a national priority

Commentary: Why healthy children’s meals should be a national priority

Providing healthy meals to children is a critical issue — one that should be nonpartisan. But during the past several years, political controversy has made its way onto the lunch tray, focused particularly on the nutritional content of meals served in schools. The federal government recently stepped back some Obama-era rules and decided to allow school meals with low-fat flavored milks and fewer...
AISD board approves $990 million in bond projects, $1.4 billion budget

AISD board approves $990 million in bond projects, $1.4 billion budget

The Austin school board early Tuesday approved 40 bond projects totaling $990 million, but delayed the actual vote to call for a November bond election until next week. The approval of the projects was among three major financial decisions trustees made during a seven-hour board meeting Monday night that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning. Trustees also approved a nearly $1.5 billion...
Austin school board approves 40 bond projects totalling $990 million

Austin school board approves 40 bond projects totalling $990 million

The Austin school board early Tuesday approved 40 bond projects totalling $990 million, but delayed the actual vote to call for a November bond election until next week. Multiple parents and community members called on the board to wait so affected schools could have time to vet projects that have recently emerged, including the relocation of the nationally ranked Liberal Arts and Science Academy...
Austin school district board approves $1.46 billion budget

Austin school district board approves $1.46 billion budget

The Austin school board on Monday night approved the district’s nearly $1.5 billion budget for 2017-18. Trustees Ted Gordon and Geronimo Rodriguez both abstained from the vote. The budget plan includes an across-the-board employee salary increases of 1.5 percent, totalling more than $8.5 million. The district’s recapture payment — required from property-wealthy districts to subsidize...
Austin school board approves $11.8 million in surplus land sales

Austin school board approves $11.8 million in surplus land sales

The Austin school board on Monday night approved the sales of two district surplus properties for $11.8 million. Trustees approved the bids by RSI Communities for $7.2 million for the 32 acre-Loyola Lane property, at the intersection of Loyola Lane and Ed Bluestein Boulevard, and $4.6 million for the 12-acre Service Center land, located south of East 51st Street. RSI plans to develop single-family...
HAPPENING NOW: Austin school board approves $1.46 billion budget

HAPPENING NOW: Austin school board approves $1.46 billion budget

1 a.m. update: The Austin school board overnight approved 40 bond projects totalling $990 million, and will officially call for a November bond election next Monday. The approval of the projects was among three major financial decisions made at the 7-hour Monday night school board meeting that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning. 9:40 p.m. update: The public portion of the Austin school...
Commentary: Why SB 1119 could bring stability to college millennials

Commentary: Why SB 1119 could bring stability to college millennials

Students across Texas are struggling to complete their degrees while building their resumes. Increasingly, unpaid internships and prestigious volunteer activities have become the norm during a young adults’ college years — at least for those students who can afford to work for free. However, recent graduates who had to work through school often face an uphill battle when trying to compete...
Taxpayers Union claims AISD exaggerated T.A. Brown Elementary damage

Taxpayers Union claims AISD exaggerated T.A. Brown Elementary damage

The Travis County Taxpayers Union has asked the Austin school district to halt any plans to demolish T.A. Brown Elementary, alleging the structural damage that prompted the sudden closure of the school was exaggerated to win over voters for a proposed November bond election. The Austin school board is slated to call for the bond election Monday night. While the list of projects and dollar amount isn&rsquo...
Community reactions mixed over proposed LASA move to Eastside site

Community reactions mixed over proposed LASA move to Eastside site

Two overlapping, community-driven events Saturday illustrated the divide in opinions among parents, teachers and other East Austin residents on a proposal to build a new Eastside Memorial High School at another location. The plans are being considered as part of a bond proposal expected to go before voters in November that entails relocating the nationally ranked Liberal Arts and Science Academy out...
Johnston alumni protest moving Eastside Memorial to give LASA campus

Johnston alumni protest moving Eastside Memorial to give LASA campus

A group of Johnston High School alumni on Saturday are opposing preliminary plans to move the nationally ranked Liberal Arts and Science Academy out of LBJ High School to become a stand-alone school on the Johnston campus in East Austin. The plans are being considered as part of a bond proposal expected to go before voters in November. Eastside Memorial High School, currently housed at the former...
Poll: Texas Republicans largely loyal to Donald Trump

Poll: Texas Republicans largely loyal to Donald Trump

Texans remain divided down the middle on whether Donald Trump is competent to be president. Lone Star state residents also are more likely to think he is neither honest nor trustworthy nor temperamentally suited to lead the nation, according to the results of a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Thursday. Beneath the 43 approval to 51 percent disapproval rating — in which 25...
Taxpayers Union claims AISD exaggerated damage to TA Brown elementary

Taxpayers Union claims AISD exaggerated damage to TA Brown elementary

The Travis County Taxpayers Union has asked the Austin school district to halt any plans to demolish T.A. Brown Elementary, alleging the structural damages that prompted the sudden closure of the school were exaggerated to win over voters for a proposed November bond election. The Austin school board is slated to call for the bond election on Monday night. While the list of projects and dollar amount...
Bill that scales back how the state grades schools becomes law

Bill that scales back how the state grades schools becomes law

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into a law a bill that scales back the way the state will grade school districts and campuses. House Bill 22, which addresses the A-F accountability system, reduces the number of categories from five to three under which school districts and campuses are evaluated. It also postpones implementing the system for schools by a year until 2019, but school districts will still...
Austin trustees’ new bond plan calls for LASA to move south and grow

Austin trustees’ new bond plan calls for LASA to move south and grow

The nationally ranked Liberal Arts and Science Academy will move out of LBJ High School to become a stand-alone school on the Johnston campus in East Austin under a bond proposal expected to go before voters in November. Eastside Memorial High School, currently housed at the former Johnston High campus, would move to the Alternative Learning Center, formerly the original L.C. Anderson High School...
Austin ISD trustees debate bond proposals ranging from $946M to $1.02B

Austin ISD trustees debate bond proposals ranging from $946M to $1.02B

Austin district trustees on Wednesday night continued their work on formulating a bond package, but after discussing projects for four hours, they didn’t quite land on an exact bond package or amount to put before voters. They did, however, come to a consensus on including specific projects, with board President Kendall Pace describing their work as mostly done. Projects in the administration&rsquo...
Foreshadowing fight, Straus rejects bathroom bill, school choice

Foreshadowing fight, Straus rejects bathroom bill, school choice

House Speaker Joe Straus told school board members from across Texas on Wednesday evening that the way to improve public education and reduce property taxes is to increase state support for education and that legislation to regulate bathrooms and offer state money for private school tuition is wrongheaded and counterproductive. “Somebody is going to pay for public education,” Straus said...
Commentary: Call Austin ISD’s marketing project anything but a failure

Commentary: Call Austin ISD’s marketing project anything but a failure

As an Austin ISD trustee, I welcome members of the public sharing concern and praise regarding the education of our children. It shows commitment and interest in Texas’ most precious resource. However, a June 1 commentary criticizing the district for spending marketing dollars and not being innovative requires some additional details, so that readers can make their own informed decisions. Since...
Parents can soon see how their kids answered on the STAAR

Parents can soon see how their kids answered on the STAAR

The Texas Education Agency has revamped an online portal so it will allow parents, for the first time, to see how their kids answered on the most recent administration of state standardized tests. Starting June 30, parents of third- through eighth-grade students will be able to log on to texasassessments.com and see how their child answered on each question of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic...
8 Texas universities made this global college ranking -- and UT Austin leads them all

8 Texas universities made this global college ranking -- and UT Austin leads them all

The University of Texas at Austin community has another reason to put up their horns. A ranking of the best colleges and universities in the world listed eight schools from the Lone Star State, with the Longhorns leading the pack.  QS Top Universities’ annual World University Rankings features heavy hitters from all corners of the globe. Six countries are represented in the top 25...
Austin trustees push for cuts to keep school bond plan under $1B

Austin trustees push for cuts to keep school bond plan under $1B

Austin school district trustees analyzed the administration’s recommended $989.3 million bond proposal into the early hours of Tuesday morning, tossing about ideas on how to keep some projects, while cutting out others. The board spent three hours discussing the recommended bond package, and largely was in consensus about keeping the amount under $1 billion to keep the tax rate flat (a larger...
Report: Children in Texas are still worse off than in most states

Report: Children in Texas are still worse off than in most states

Although they’ve fared a little better since last year, children are worse off in Texas than in most states, according to a study released Tuesday. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has ranked states annually on child well-being since 1990, placed Texas at No. 41 among all states this year, climbing two slots since last year. This year, New Hampshire took the top spot and Mississippi scored...
Austin school trustees appoint Geronimo Rodriguez to board seat

Austin school trustees appoint Geronimo Rodriguez to board seat

Austin school district trustees Monday night unanimously voted to appoint Seton Healthcare Family executive Geronimo Rodriguez Jr. to a vacant seat on the 9-member board. Rodriguez was immediately sworn in and joined other board members within minutes of the vote. “I’m ready to serve,” Rodriguez told the American-Statesman in an interview prior to the meeting. “My focus has...
STAAR graduation requirements eased until 2019

STAAR graduation requirements eased until 2019

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a bill that continues for two more years a policy enacted in 2015 that makes high school students eligible to graduate even if they fail up to two state standardized tests. A high school senior who has failed up to two end-of-course State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness but has passed all classes and fulfilled other requirements can graduate as long...
AISD superintendent pitches $989.3 million bond plan, with no new LASA

AISD superintendent pitches $989.3 million bond plan, with no new LASA

Austin district Superintendent Paul Cruz tonight will present to the school board his recommendation for a $989.3 million bond package, which includes 14 new or modernized campuses. The proposal includes tearing down and rebuilding the shuttered Brown Elementary, building a new grades 4-8 school to relieve Blazier Elementary, and building a new elementary in southwest Austin, among others. It also...
In Austin area, 65 percent of Class of 2016 went straight to college

In Austin area, 65 percent of Class of 2016 went straight to college

Despite falling short of their goal, Central Texas school districts are enrolling more graduates into college directly out of high school, according to a new report obtained by the American-Statesman. Direct-to-college enrollment rates improved 1 percentage point year over year, but have gained 4 percentage points since 2010 to reach 65 percent for the class of 2016, data by the University of Texas...
Two Views: School finance is dead. Dan Patrick administered the poison

Two Views: School finance is dead. Dan Patrick administered the poison

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claims he is appalled that the Texas House would reject the Senate’s version of House Bill 21, a major piece of school finance legislation. What’s really appalling is how the Senate mutilated the school finance bill as soon as it had the chance. State Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, authored HB 21 to address the school funding system, which the Texas Supreme Court called...
Two Views: The truth about education spending in Texas, by Dan Patrick

Two Views: The truth about education spending in Texas, by Dan Patrick

The 2017 legislative session recently ended and, as if on cue, education bureaucrats began pushing out misinformation, insisting that the state cut funding for public schools. You may have seen it in the media or maybe even heard it directly from your local school officials. Here are the facts: Texas spends $60 billion on schools in our two-year budget including both federal and state funds &mdash...
$1.5 billion in school needs has Austin trustees thinking big

$1.5 billion in school needs has Austin trustees thinking big

As the Austin school board fine-tunes a November bond proposal to build and revamp schools, a district advisory committee and facility consultants have presented $1.5 billion in “essential” projects. Trustees didn’t signal whether they’ve given up on keeping their bond funding request under $1 billion, but several of them didn’t balk as they listened to the presentation...
Austin school tax bills could rise under $1.5 billion bond package

Austin school tax bills could rise under $1.5 billion bond package

Austin school district taxpayers could see higher tax bills if trustees move forward with $1.5 billion in proposed projects in a November school bond election. If the school board puts before voters all $1.5 billion worth of proposed projects presented by facility consultants Monday night, the district’s tax rate could increase a maximum of nearly 3 cents to roughly $1.22 per $100 of assessed...
How big will the Austin school bond package get? Trustees to decide

How big will the Austin school bond package get? Trustees to decide

Austin district trustees tonight will discuss the size and scope of a bond package they will put before voters in November. The discussion, slated for at least two hours, will begin with more than $1.5 billion in projects considered essentials by a facilities and bond advisory committee tasked to determine the district’s needs. The committee worked for more than a year to create a ...
Georgetown middle school girl called an ape, slave by fellow students

Georgetown middle school girl called an ape, slave by fellow students

A girl at Tippit Middle School in Georgetown told an African-American girl in May that she looked like an ape and also referred to her as a slave and pretended to whip her, according to a written report from the school. A male student also made a racial remark to the black student, the report said. The father of the 12-year-old student who was harassed, Robert Ranco, said last week the school didn&rsquo...
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