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Top Morning Stories March 22, 2011

The Leander Independent School District's Superintendent has released proposed budget cuts for the 2011-2012 school year.
Photo by KUT News.
The Leander Independent School District's Superintendent has released proposed budget cuts for the 2011-2012 school year.

Leander Superintendent Proposing Cutting 213 New Teachers

Leander ISD's Superintendent Bret Champion has laid out his proposed budget cuts for next school year.  He recommends not renewing probationary contracts for 213 new teachers completing their first full year with LISD.

The District's eliminating a total of 250 other jobs: 141 central office and non-classroom jobs and 109 classroom jobs. The plan is for longer term contract teachers to move into "the slots" new teachers are currently in.  LISD also proposed adding two furlough days, changing student-to-teacher ratios and reducing athletics and fine arts budgets.  The District's facing a $29 million shortfall.  From Superintendent Champion's press release:

“It’s important to note that what I am proposing is not a final budget, but rather a worst-case scenario based on the information we currently have from the state,” Champion said. “We delayed making decisions as long as possible because we wanted to have input from staff, community and parents, as well as the ability to research any and all options. We’ve diligently looked at efficiencies in our system and have compiled our recommendations after much consideration and deliberations.”  

Austin Remembering Pinetop Perkins

World renowned blues pianist Pinetop Perkins passed away at his Austin home yesterday.  At the age of 97, he was the oldest Grammy winner ever.  Perkins won a Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album last month.  He rose to prominence in the late '60s and '70s as the sideman for Muddy Waters.  Antone's is holding a tribute to Pinetop Perkins tonight; doors open at 7 p.m.

Natural Gas Leak in East Austin

The Austin Fire Department says there’s a natural gas leak near East 7th street between Prospect and Webberville.  AFD says a 4 inch supply line is leaking, and Texas Gas Service is responding.  AFD says there’s no public health risk and that gas service has not been disrupted so far.  Capital Metro has stopped MetroRail service between MLK and the downtown stations.  AFD says it's not sure how long the disruption will last.

Texas Senate Committee to Hear Anti-Bullying Bills

The Senate Committee on Education will hear testimony this morning on different bills to curb bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools.  One of the bills would require educators to get training to identify and handle bullying cases.