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AM Update: AISD Budget Approved, Highway Patrol Museum Closed, Dog Park Talk Tonight

Daniel Reese for KUT News

A good — and groggy — morning to the 50,000 UT-Austin students returning to class today. Here’s some of Austin’s top overnight stories.

Austin School Board Approves 2012-13 Budget

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees approved a budget for the coming school year last night, including $14 million in raises for district employees.

The Austin American-Statesman has more details on the budget:

The district will keep its tax rate the same, at $1.242 per $100 of assessed value, with $1.079 for operations and 16.3 cents for debt. The owner of an average taxable value home, $244,534 after exemptions, would pay $3,037 annually, an increase of $7. The budget includes launching several initiatives, including the new IDEA in-district charter school, expanding dual language programs to more schools and adding programs to help at-risk students graduate. The district also increased resources for growing special education needs in the early grades by $1.8 million; the district already designates $85 million in local funding for special education.

AISD students returned to school on Monday, August 27.

Mabel Davis Goes Off the Chain?

The City of Austin is holding a community forum to discuss a potential off-leash dog park at Mabel Davis Park in southeast Austin. And some residents have a bone to pick with the proposal.

KUT News recently spoke with Ricardo Soliz, division manager with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, about the proposal. He noted that several nearby apartment residents may appreciate a fenced-in, off-leash park where dogs can play, but also noted “quite a bit of folks that are not as supportive,” adding that at tonight’s meeting, the city wishes to “air out some of those concerns.”

The meeting is tonight, in the William B. Travis High School cafeteria, 1211 E. Oltorf St., 6-8 p.m.

Lockdown for Highway Patrol Museum

The Texas Attorney General has succeeded in shutting down the so-called Texas Highway Patrol Museum, an entity that was not affiliated with the official Texas Highway Patrol. 

The San Antonio Express-News reports the museum raised more than $12-million since 2004, and gave less than one percent of that to troopers and their families. The museum raised money through a statewide network of telemarketers.

Attorney General Greg Abbott brought a lawsuit against the operation last year.  A settlement has been reached that includes the museum director paying off more than $40,000 of credit card debt. 

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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