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Mueller Advocates Challenge AISD Redistricting Maps

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News
A two-minute countdown clock for people who address the school board during public hearings, such as tonight's on redistricting.

Ever since fresh US Census data revealed large population disparities in Austin ISD's seven trustee districts, AISD has been working to redraw those political boundaries.  One challenge is balancing voter influence without violating the Voting Rights Act by diluting the influence of protected minority groups.

Those sometimes conflicting goals may be tested around the Mueller redevelopment project, a planned mixed-use community being constructed on the site of what used to be a municipal airport.Specifically, some Mueller residents want their neighborhood to be kept in AISD District 1, a political region that encompasses the largely African-American and Hispanic communities residing in east and northeast Austin. Both of AISD's proposed redistricting maps would move a portion of the Mueller neighborhood into District 3, which mostly covers north central Austin.

Jim Walker, a Cherrywood resident and a member of the city’s Mueller Commission, told school board members during a public hearing tonight that there is a “misperception that Mueller advocates, such as myself, and Mueller residents don’t want to be a part of East Austin schools. That’s not true.”

A large, yet-to-be-constructed portion of the Mueller community would fall in the Blanton Elementary attendance zone. Blanton feeds into Pearce Middle School in northeast Austin, a campus that had its share of struggles meeting state accountability standards, until last year when it was deemed “academically acceptable.”

Walker said some Mueller residents have been volunteering at Pearce Middle School, and it “makes a lot of sense to keep those folks in District 1.”

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