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Carstarphen Unsure If She Has Votes To Pass Charter School Deal

Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says she doesn't know if enough school board members will support her controversial proposal to create an in-district charter school program. The board is scheduled to vote tonight on the deal.

"I actually probably don't spend a lot of time trying to count votes or influence our trustees in that kind of way," Carstarphen said in a press briefing with reporters. You can see her full response by watching the video above.  

Board members appeared split on whether to adopt the issue at a work session last Monday. Board members Robert Schneider, Annette LoVoi and Tamala Barksdale were as vocal in their reservationsas they were in prior meetings.

Carstarphen needs at least five of the board’s nine members to vote in favor of the IDEA charter school proposal for it to pass. All board members are present for tonight's meeting. 

Dozens of parents, teachers, students and supporters are rallying outside the board meeting tonight. They are chanting and carrying signs opposed to AISD's proposed contract with IDEA Public Schools, a charter school operator founded 11 years ago in the Rio Grande Valley.

"The biggest issue we have really right now is that they just simply did not take time to vet this with the community," said Ken Zarifis, a co-president of the district's employee's association, Education Austin. 

AISD school board president Mark Williams acknowledged the process felt rushed, but said the district was moving forward because of the urgency Carstarphen felt was necessary to address academically underperforming schools in East Austin. 

"In hindsight, I can look back and say, 'Boy, it sure would have been nice to have the full year process,' but we are where we are right now," he said. "I'm not sure that delaying tonight is going to change a whole lot of minds and opinions."

You can watch a live stream of tonight's board meeting or catch it on Time Warner or Grande Communications channel 22. And make sure to follow Twitter hashtag #AISD to join the conversation.  

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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