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The Lead: The Texas School Finance Lawsuit, Explained; UT Pumps Breaks on New HQ

Good morning! The National Weather Service says cloudy weather and drizzle will define this Friday, with a greater chance for thunderstorms this weekend. (Got your John Aielli-approved KUT Rain Gauge handy? Share any rainfall totals on Twitter with hashtag #KUTgarden.) Here’s some overnight stories from KUT News:

“A school finance lawsuit underway now could transform how we pay for public education in Texas. About 600 school districts are suing the state. Arguments started nine weeks ago and could last another month or longer and a decision is not expected until after the next legislative session ends.”

“After East Texas landowner Mike Bishop won a temporary restraining order against the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this week, a Nacogdoches County judge reversed that order Thursday. Ruling in favor of the Canadian company behind the controversial pipeline, TransCanada, Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz reversed the restraining order, allowing TransCanada to continue construction on Bishop’s land.”

“The promoters behind Austin’s Formula 1 racetrack may tap a state trust fund for more than F1. The Austin City Council authorized the team at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) to act on the city’s behalf in negotiating payments from the state’s Major Events Trust Fund. The payments would be for four upcoming races, with the first scheduled for this spring. COTA's promotions group just received more than $29 million from the trust fund to help pay for costs associated with putting on November’s F1 event.”

“The Austin City Council approved a five-year, $10 million program to bring the city’s bus stops in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The city will spend $2 million next year on upgrades to Cap Metro stops, averaging $8,000 each.”

And here’s some more Austin-centric stories:

  • UT System Puts Plan For New Headquarters On Back Burner (Statesman)
“In an abrupt and unexpected move, University of Texas System officials have decided to “delay and rethink” a $102.4 million plan to build a new headquarters for the system’s staff in downtown Austin. Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell, in a memo to fellow regents Thursday, said construction projects at the system’s various campuses ‘must take priority over other internally focused capital projects like the proposed new UT System building.’”

  • Chief Acevedo Wants Officers Writing More Tickets, Fewer Warnings (KVUE)
“Twenty eight people have been killed either while walking or riding their bicycles this year. A third of those cases were hit-and-runs.  Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo told KVUE News that he is now directing his officers to write more citations than warnings when they see traffic violations.”

  • Father Alleges Son Was Injured After School Cafeteria Glass Breaks (Statesman)
“[Parent Craig Smith ]said his 8-year-old son was in the serving line when he received six small ‘lacerations’ to his face, neck and arm. The next day, he also had a small amount of bloody stool — a possible symptom of having swallowed a sharp object. Smith informed the school that day, and he took his son to Austin Regional Clinic, but an exam showed no signs of cuts to his mouth or throat, he said.”

  • New Rooftop Solar in SE Austin Is the City's Largest (Austin Energy Official Blog)
“Installation is complete on what is now the largest rooftop solar system in Austin, atop two buildings at the Austin Energy System Control Center on Montopolis Drive. The 540-kilowatt system consists of thin-film solar modules and will produce 665,492 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, fed directly into the buildings, with any surplus going into the electric grid.”

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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