Austin ISD's New Enrollment Officer Wants To Improve Customer Service And Address Inequities
The Austin Independent School District hired Alejandro Delgado this month as its first executive director of student enrollment. His job is to attract and keep students in AISD schools, which have seen years of declining enrollment.
Delgado said he has two goals for this position: The first is to improve customer service with families; the second is to address inequities.
“There are such great opportunities here in Austin where kids can thrive,” he said. “We've got to make sure we get the word out, so when kids get in the buildings they’re thriving, and families want to both stay in AISD and come back to AISD.”
AISD has lost around 6,000 students since the 2016 school year. Declining enrollment means less funding from the state.
Delgado said there are a lot of options that compete with AISD for students — from charter schools to private schools.
"We now have a homeschool option that is a robust option given the pandemic," he added.
One of the first steps Delgado wants to take is a listening campaign to learn why some families have left the district and what families are looking for from their schools.
There are a few things he knows can be addressed right now. One is making it easier to enroll. His office just launched a program where parents can text ENROLL to 512-886-6434 and start the process over the phone. The district also announced it will provide more transportation for families who live near some underenrolled schools.
Delgado said he wants to take a close look at how enrollment creates inequities within AISD.
“We live in a very segregated city, and you see that with our enrollment patterns depending on where you live,” he said.
Even though the total student population in AISD is almost evenly split between students living in poverty and those who aren’t, most schools serve one population or the other. The same is true with race: Most schools are not racially integrated.
Delgado said he eventually wants to look at AISD practices, like the policy that allows students to transfer to a school outside their neighborhood, to see if they are contributing to inequities.