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

A locker in the Austin Independent School District
Julia Reihs / KUT

A local nonprofit wants to start a school in Austin that serves young adults with neurological conditions like autism.

Easterseals of Central Texas is seeking to start the school within the Austin Independent School District. The school would help students older than 18 who have autism or other conditions learn important life and workplace skills. Students would attend the school after completing high school graduation requirements. 

President Donald Trump addresses the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual conference at the Austin Convention Center on Sunday.
Julia Reihs / KUT

President Donald Trump told the audience Sunday in a packed conference hall of farmers and ranchers that his administration’s policies keep them in mind.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Click here to read this story in English.

Cuando el Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin anunció que era necesario cerrar y consolidar escuelas en febrero, también publicó una oferta laboral para el primer director de equidad del distrito.

Five Bertha Sadler Means students
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District put off a decision last fall on whether to close eight schools as part of its districtwide overhaul. Since then, students, staff and parents at those schools have been waiting in a sort of limbo, and it could be months before they learn their schools' fates. 

Stephanie Hawley, chief equity officer for AISD, at a school board meeting.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

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

When the Austin Independent School District announced it needed to close and consolidate schools back in February, it also posted a job for its first-ever chief equity officer.

Austin ISD Cief Equity Officer Stephanie Hawley, at a school board meeting Aug. 26.
Julia Reihs / KUT

School closures and consolidations are not "equity strategies," the Austin Independent School District's chief equity officer says in a report released Monday.

Children and community members hold signs asking that Pease Elementary not be closed.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s board of trustees discussed transition plans for the four schools it voted to close at last month’s meeting at a work session Monday night.

Julia Reihs / KUT

Click here to read this in English.

La Mesa Directiva del Distrito Escolar Independiente de Austin votó cerrar las escuelas primarias de Brooke, Metz, Sims y Pease, a pesar de que el oficial responsable de Equidad del distrito dijo que el plan de cierre era racista.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees voted to close Brooke, Metz, Sims and Pease elementary schools – despite the district's chief equity officer calling the closure plan racist.

Residents hold signs during an AISD school board meeting
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

When Juan and Rachael Torres bought their house two and a half years ago, they chose a specific neighborhood in Southwest Austin, Oak Parke, not just because of the quality of the schools, but because their three children would attend schools with the same kids until they graduated from high school. 

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.

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