Claire McInerny, KUT

Education Reporter

Claire McInerny is the education reporter for KUT. Previously, she was a statewide education reporter for NPR member stations in Indiana. She won an Edward R. Murrow award for a series she did there about resources for English Language Learners in the state’s rural school districts. Claire is originally from Kansas, and got a journalism degree from the University of Kansas. Since moving to Texas, she’s never missed winter. 

Ways to Connect

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Click here to read this in English.

El Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin anunció en Septiembre su plan de cerrar y consolidar escuelas. Pasé casi todos los días después de esa noticia platicando con miembros de la comunidad, maestros, estudiantes y sus padres sobre estos posibles cambios. De las 12 escuelas en la lista inicial de posibles cierres, gran parte de la comunidad solamente habla español.

El edificio nuevo de la escuela primaria T.A. Brown, una escuela consolidada y "modernizada," esta en construcción en el norte de Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read this in English.

Terminó la jornada escolar y un grupo de maestros de la Primaria T.A. Brown y la Primaria Webb están parados afuera de un remolque de construcción, vestidos con chalecos de seguridad, cascos y gafas de protección. Están a punto de hacer un recorrido por su escuela nueva. 

El edificio nuevo de la escuela primaria T.A. Brown, una escuela consolidada y "modernizada," esta en construcción en el norte de Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Para leer una versión de este artículo en Español haga click aqui.

The school day is over, and a group of teachers from T.A. Brown Elementary and Webb Primary are standing outside a construction trailer, wearing safety vests, hard hats and protective glasses. They are about to get a tour of their new school. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Para leer una versión de este artículo en Español haga click aqui.

The Austin Independent School District announced in September a plan to close and consolidate schools. I spent almost every day after that announcement talking with parents, teachers, community members and students about these possible changes.

Of the 12 schools on the initial list for closure, a good portion have a community of parents who speak only Spanish.

A finger points to an equation on a white board.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Voters on Tuesday approved school bond packages for Manor and Del Valle Independent School Districts, and voted against bond packages in Burnet Consolidated School District and Lockhart ISD. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Click here to read this in English.

En lugar de cerrar 12 escuelas en los próximos cinco años, el Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin ahora propone cerrar cuatro escuelas en los próximos dos años.

Austin ISD staff talk with members of the community about the second draft of its school closure plan.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Staff from the Austin Independent School District explained changes to the district's latest school closure plan at a town hall Saturday.

A crowded school closure meeting at Ridgetop Elementary.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Para leer una versión de este artículo en Español haga click aqui

Instead of closing 12 schools over the next five years, the Austin Independent School District is now proposing closing four schools over two years.

Erika Bodoin (left) holds a sign in support of adopting National Sexual Education Standards at an AISD Board meeting on Feb. 25.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted early Tuesday morning to adopt new sex ed curriculum that expands topics taught to third through eighth graders.

New topics include gender identity and expression, sexually transmitted infections and anatomy, and they sparked hours of public testimony before the unanimous vote just after midnight.

Hazel O'Neil / KUT

The word “equity” has been thrown around a lot over the last month, since the Austin Independent School District announced its plan to close and consolidate 12 schools. On the first page of the district’s proposal released on Sept. 5, it says these changes are being made “with equity in mind.”

But the meaning of the word “equity” means different things, depending on who you talk to.

Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees Jayme Mathias
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District finished its third week of community meetings to get feedback on its plan to close and consolidate 12 schools. Now, district staff will revise the proposal before the school board votes in late November.

Parents and community members attend a public meeting at Ridgetop Elementary
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District held its second week of community meetings to discuss its plan to close 12 schools and increase programs districtwide

Shuronda Robinson, a contractor with AISD who has been helping the district moderate school closure meetings, talks with families at Metz Elementary School on Wednesday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is wrapping up its first week of meetings in communities affected by its proposal to close 12 schools, listening to parents who at times yelled and cried as they asked for clarification. 

Pease Elementary
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District is holding a series of public meetings at schools affected by its proposal to close and consolidate 12 campuses across the district.

Residents hold signs during an AISD school board meeting
Julia Reihs / KUT

Education Austin and LGBTQ activists are asking the Austin Independent School District for a discussion on training for AISD police officers after an August school board meeting where audience members clashed over homophobic comments. 

Susanne Kerns of Informed Parents of Austin speaks during public comment at an Austin ISD school board meeting in February.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District has revised its rules for public comment at school board meetings, reducing the time people are allowed to speak but removing the cap on the number of people allowed to speak on an agenda item. 

Jennifer Stayton, Claire McInerny, Matias Segura and Lisa Goodnow during a live Morning Edition taping.
KUT video screengrab

At a live discussion of the Austin Independent School District's proposal to overhaul the entire district, school officials said the idea is about more than just closings. Meanwhile, city leaders said there's room to grow to bring more equitable opportunities to students. 

Dawson Elementary School
KUT

Isela Guerra spent Thursday night at her first back-to-school event at Dawson Elementary. Her son had just started pre-K there, and she was excited to be an involved parent at the school she herself attended as a child. 

Then she found out Dawson was on the list of schools the Austin Independent School District has proposed closing.

Austin Independent School District officials and school board memebers
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District said it will save about $240 million in maintenance costs by closing 12 schools in the district and moving students to other campuses. But school officials say this plan wasn't proposed to just save money, it will also help students academically.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The Austin Independent School District announced Thursday its first draft of a plan for closing and consolidating schools. The move is something the district has said it needs to do as enrollment continues to drop.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The Austin Independent School District released a plan Thursday to close 12 schools and move those students to other campuses. The district is also proposing boundary changes and wants to add academic programs at more than 30 schools.

Aaron Booe, LASA student
Julia Reihs / KUT

When 17-year-old Aaron Booe was applying to the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin ISD's elite magnet high school, he was excited about what the school could offer. When he showed up to take the admissions test, though, something aside from academics stuck out.

Ali Takata and her two daughters
Julia Reihs / KUT

A large frame filled with 1,001 paper cranes hangs above the fireplace in Ali Takata’s living room. A Japanese and Hawaiian wedding tradition, people fold the cranes and give them to the bride. On a summer morning, Takata decided to teach her daughters, ages 8 and 10, how to make them.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Report cards are out, and the Austin Independent School District received a preliminary grade of B for the 2018-19 school year from the Texas Education Agency. But the district also received failing grades at elementary and middle schools in the TEA's first-ever evaluation of individual schools.

Black AISD students on a bus in 1971
Austin History Center, General Collection Photographs, PICA 10494

While many people in Austin are questioning why the Austin Independent School District is closing and consolidating schools, Roxanne Evans says she saw it coming.

Evans covered education for the Austin American-Statesman back in the 1980s, when students were bused in an attempt to integrate schools. She says what’s happening now is a continuation of something that was never finished.

Hazel O'Neil for KUT

The cafeteria of Bedichek Middle School in Southwest Austin was chaotic as almost 100 parents fought for the attention of AISD administrative staff. Some were still in work clothes; some were in T-shirts. Almost all of them were asking questions – and sometimes it got heated.

A district staffer had to pull a father into the hallway at one point when his language got combative. 

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District will not publicly announce which schools it is considering for closures until Sept. 6.

The board of trustees had been planning to review possible options at its August meeting. Now it will discuss scenarios at its Sept. 9 work session.

The Bent Tree via Flickr/CC by NC 2.0

When Gov. Greg Abbott signed HB 3 into law earlier this summer, in addition to increasing school funding and approving teacher raises, he also approved a requirement for all Texas high school seniors to fill out an application for federal or state financial aid for college.

Incoming UT freshman Cindy Munoz
Julia Reihs / KUT

Cindy Muñoz sits in an auditorium on the UT Austin campus, watching a presentation on how to enroll for classes she’ll take when she begins her freshman year next month. 

UT Austin tower
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Tuesday to offer full tuition assistance to more UT Austin students, adding $160 million to an endowment to help cover costs.

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