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Carstarphen: Not Clear What's Next for Eastside

KUT News

A high school on Austin’s east side is once again facing the possibility of state closure. Eastside Memorial High has received the state stamp of academically unacceptable since 2004. In 2008 it was closed and reopened with a new name -- it used to be Johnston High School.

The Austin school district was allowed to keep operating Eastside Memorial after it submitted a plan to run a charter school at Allen Elementary that would feed into Eastside Memorial. But a newly elected school board canceled that contract last December because of anger from many people in that neighborhood.

Now the district is, in many respects, back to square one.

KUT’s Nathan Bernier spoke with Superintendent Meria Carstarphen about whether closing the school or turning control over to the state is the worst-case scenario.

Alternative management is looking pretty bleak. Not only do you get a closure, it’s like a closure-plus; the commissioner gets to pick who is a provider for the school, and that is out of our control. Once that provider is found, we relinquish all control of the school, so you’re running a school that you don’t control at all. We would have to execute a contract that does not give us the upper hand in negotiations, and once that contract is negotiated, the district must assume all costs for that provider. That one, to me, is even worse than closure.

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 X @KUTnathan.