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AISD Head Talks Challenges, Successes and Changes in Austin's Public Schools

KUT News

Today is the first day of school for Austin ISD, and that means nearly 90,000 students filling hallways. Meria Carstarphen, AISD’s superintendent, sees the biggest challenges in a successful year as student safety, school funding, and STAAR testing.

Before students can return to class, they must first meet the required immunization standards. To accommodate this requirement, AISD offered free vaccinations this past weekend at their Back to School Bash.

The STAAR exam will be in its third year, and AISD will be looking to raise its scores in preparation for the tougher 2016 requirements.

Carstarphen praised the efforts of local teachers in their ability to teach without over-relying on practice testing.

“Our staff has been extraordinary in making that transition away from that culture,” Carstarphen said.

In 2011, Austin school district had $60 million cut from its budget by the Texas Legislature.  This year it received nearly $11 million back into its budget.

Carstarphen said that while she doesn’t see the school board requesting a tax ratification election in the near future, it’s only a matter of time before they request an increase in funding from property taxes.

“We know that we don’t have enough resources to serve our students and certainly the evolving demographics in our population that do demand resources to be successful,” Carstarphen said. “There are a lot of things that Austin wants, and they’re, by and large, pretty cost prohibitive.”

Roy is a second year journalism professional track graduate student at the University of Texas.
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.
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