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Top Morning Stories 12/2/11: Eastside Principal Resigning, UTMB to Continue Prison Health Care

The Austin Independent School District has confirmed the principal at Eastside Memorial High School is resigning.
KUT News
The Austin Independent School District has confirmed the principal at Eastside Memorial High School is resigning.

Eastside Memorial Principal Resigning

Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus Principal Joseph Coburn is resigning effective January first. The Austin Independent School District told KUT he announced his resignation during a staff meeting yesterday. An AISD spokeswoman says Coburn is leaving to pursue a doctoral degree. The Eastside school has struggled to meet state academic standards for years.

UTMB Likely to Continue Prison Health Care in 2012

University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have reached a tentative agreement on prisoner health care. The state would continue to fund UTMB to provide health care to about 120,000 Texas inmates through next August. UTMB was concerned about rising health care costs and more losses in running prisoner health care.

As KUT's Ben Philpott reported during Morning Edition, the Texas Legislature will begin its periodical review of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice starting in January. Scott Medlock, with The Texas Civil Rights Project, spoke to KUT about the group's concerns over health care in the state's prison system.

The TCRP sent a letter to the Sunset Advisory Commission pointing out what it considers inadequate health care for prisoners. Arguing for prisoner rights doesn’t always get results, Medlock said, so he’s also proposing measures to improve prisoner conditions while cutting costs for the state. For example, Medlock said the state should review policies that keep geriatric inmates behind bars as they will require a disproportionate amount of the state prison system’s healthcare dollars.

You can read Philpott's entire story here.

ERCOT Warns of Tight Power Supplies

The state's grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas is warning there's a threat for rotating power outages next summer- especially if we have more record-setting temperatures. ERCOT says power reserves are down because some power plant units are scheduled to go offline and some planned units have been delayed.

“We are very concerned about the significant drop in the reserve margin,” said CEO Trip Doggett.  “If we stay in the current cycle of hot and dry summers, we will be very tight on capacity next summer and have a repeat of this year’s emergency procedures and conservation appeals.”

ERCOT also said rotating outages could happen again this winter if it gets as cold as it did last February:

"Under extreme weather conditions, the winter peak demand could be approximately 60,000 MW.   Available resources, based on above normal generation outage rates, could dip to approximately 57,000 MW,” Doggett said.  “We believe the risk is very low of these simultaneous conditions, but the purpose of this report is to highlight such risks.”

Texas A&M Lets Go of Head Football Coach

Texas A&M University's athletic director announced last night that head football coach Mike Sherman will not be retained for next season.

"Mike Sherman has operated our football program with the highest levels of character and integrity over the past four seasons and has served as a great ambassador for Texas A&M University. Mike has always put the welfare of the student-athlete and Texas A&M first," said Texas A&M University Athletic Director Bill Byrne, in a written statement.

As the Austin American-Statesman reports, this has been a season of disappointments for the Aggies:

This season was the most anticipated in recent A&M history. The Aggies, ranked No. 8 to start the season, accepted an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference in September. A&M sold out all seven of its home games and set a school attendance record. But the 27-25 Thanksgiving loss to Texas — A&M's fourth defeat in its past five games — was the third last-second loss since Oct. 29. The Aggies fell to Missouri and Kansas State in overtime, and lost to the Longhorns on the last play of regulation. In four of the Aggies' six losses — to Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas — they held halftime leads of nine or more points.