The Austin school board Monday night approved a contingency plan for Eastside Memorial High School, in the event that State Education Commissioner Michael Williams rejects the organization the district selects to help turn around the struggling school.
The district is in the process of selecting a partner to help improve academic performance at Eastside Memorial. A selection committee this week will choose between the two finalists, Washington-based American Institutes for Research and Baltimore-based Talent Development Secondary of Johns Hopkins University. The school board will decide on the contract with the recommended partner.
In the event that Williams rejects the district’s choice, the contingency plan calls for rising 12th-grade Eastside to remain at the Eastside campus, while others would be reassigned to other campuses, including McCallum, Travis and Reagan high schools. Parents and students would be notified of their new campus assignments the week of June 17 under the proposed plan.
In other board actions, trustees approved hiring Q Communications to help inform and get input from parents and the community regarding student-based funding.
The student formula is considered by some to be a more equitable way to distribute public money for education. But critics say the funding, which ensures that extra money follows needy students, could financially stress schools that are small and underenrolled.
Currently, the district gives what it collects in state per-student funding and local taxes to its campuses based largely on state funding formulas. Under that distribution, the money isn’t necessarily tied to a student, particularly if the student transfers schools.
Trustees on Monday tabled a decision to place advertising on the district’s school buses. Newly-elected trustees raised questions and concerns about selling the ads and wanted more time to consider it. According to district documents, the district could pull in about $43,200 in the first year, by allowing a vendor to sell ads on on 10 percent of the district’s fleet. By year five, projections show the district could be earning $388,000, with ads placed on 80 percent of the fleet.