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

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Twelve percent of teenagers in Texas said they attempted suicide in 2017, according to a report released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's higher than the national average of 7 percent.

Seventeen percent of ninth- through 12th-graders surveyed in Texas said they seriously considered suicide last year, and 14 percent said they had made a plan for how to do it.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

It’s a typical summer day at Emily Herrington’s house in Northeast Austin. Her two daughters, Penly, 7, and Laurel, 3, are playing with their kittens and reading books in the living room.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The most basic thing to understand about school funding is that every student in the state of Texas has a dollar figure hanging over his or her head. But not every kid is worth the same amount of money in the eyes of state.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

As Austin’s property taxes continue to rise, so does the amount on the check AISD writes to the state.

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees approved a budget Monday night that sends more than half of its local tax revenue away from the district. Texas law requires wealthier districts to send a portion of their property taxes back to the state to help out smaller, poorer districts in a program known as “recapture.”

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A group of law enforcement officers told Texas senators today that they don't think the governor's plan to “harden” schools is the best way to keep students safe.

“Give us more campus officers,” Joe Curiel, police chief for San Antonio Independent School District Police Department, told the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Texas’ system for paying for schools is complicated, and for most of you with jobs, kids and lives, it's hard to find time to learn the ins and outs of it.

So, we’re starting a project called Filling in the Blanks to demystify the process and answer your questions – big and small – about how the state pays for schools and why it got that way.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School district is hosting a picnic Saturday to introduce the Norman and Sims elementary school communities to one another before they combine as one school in August.

Students from Norman will go to school in the Sims building next yer, while Norman gets a major renovation. The merger came out of the bond voters passed in November.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Grace Johnson, a senior at Santa Fe High School, said she was in the band room when the fire alarm went off last Friday. She got up to evacuate.

“When I walk out into the hallway, I see a kid get shot,” she told Gov. Greg Abbott and others gathered at the Capitol on Thursday for the third in a series of roundtable discussions on school safety. “And he falls. In Santa Fe, we know what guns sounds like ... but you never think it’s going to be in the school.”

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The main focus of a roundtable discussion at the Capitol on Wednesday was finding ways for schools to identify violent students before they commit mass murder.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Education Austin, the union for Austin ISD's employees, called for the resignation of School Board President Kendall Pace after inflammatory texts she sent to another board member surfaced.

The texts to Julie Cowan include name calling and harsh language toward others in Austin's education community, which was one reason the union called for her resignation. But there's a lot in the texts that require context to understand.

Montinique Monroe for KUT

When you've lived for 112 years, there's not a lot someone can give you for your birthday that you haven't already received. That's why Richard Overton, America's oldest World War II veteran, is thinking big. 

"I want a million dollars if you're going to give it to me," he said Thursday from the front porch of his East Austin home.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As teachers around the country strike for better pay, teachers in Austin – who don't have the option of striking – are taking a different approach for better working conditions.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hundreds of high school students in Austin are planning to walk out of school tomorrow and rally outside the Capitol as part of a nationwide walkout to call for more gun control and better school safety.

Austin Price for KUT

Two organizations presented plans last night to parents, teachers and community members about how they would help Mendez Middle School improve.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District formally approved a plan last night to spend $25 million to renovate Norman Elementary School. During that two-year renovation, students from Norman will relocate to Sims Elementary about a mile away.

The vote could also mean a consolidation of the two under-enrolled schools at the renovated campus if enrollment doesn’t improve in the next two years – an option some say wasn't clear in the run-up to the board's final decision.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

On the corner of Fourth and Trinity, right outside the Austin Convention Center, Khari Youngblood is trying to get pedestrians to stop and talk to him. It’s the last day of the SXSW Interactive festival, and participants with badges crowd the sidewalk. He compliments their clothes, yells jokes and puns, and when someone ignores him, he moves on to someone else.

Courtesy of Austin Soundwaves

Draylen Mason was known as an accomplished musician who was heading to college, but he could also make you laugh before he even opened his mouth.

"You just expect to laugh with him. That boy was hilarious," said Sharrel Prince, who has known him since pre-K. "What made Draylen funny is that he says the things everyone else is scared to say."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

After the Columbine school shooting in 1999, the Texas Legislature created the School Safety Center, a research center at Texas State University that helps schools prepare for different kinds of disasters.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Part 2 of a two-part series

When the State Board of Education passed new social studies standards in 2010, there was an outcry from critics who said they prioritized conservative views over historical facts. As the board edits the standards this year, some see an opportunity to correct these inaccuracies.

Gabriel C. Pérez

Part 1 of a two-part series.

During the debate about renaming Austin schools, a recurring theme emerged: The problem isn’t just about schools being named for men who served in the Confederate military or government, but how schools teach about the Civil War and slavery.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted Monday night to move forward with renaming five district buildings named for men who served in either the Confederate military or government.

Lanier, Reagan and Eastside Memorial high schools, Fulmore Middle School and the Allan Center will get new names.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT

The Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees will vote tonight on whether to change the names of five district facilities named after people who served in the Confederate military or government.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. for KUT News

The Austin Independent School District met with community members Thursday night to get feedback on whether to change the names of five district buildings. All five buildings were named for people connected to the Confederate military or government during the Civil War.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees is seeking community feedback on whether to rename five district facilities named after people who served in the Confederacy. The board is gathering community input before it votes on whether to change the names at its meeting Monday. 

District administration asked the board to consider renaming the following buildings at a November board meeting:

Jorge Sanhueza Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District’s board of trustees is slowing down its timeline for a vote on whether to change the names of five schools named after Confederate figures.

Austin Price for KUT

On a Thursday after school, Taylor Barron begins a new lesson. She hits play on a YouTube video and the infamous cello notes fill the room. They get faster and faster, then slowly crescendo.

She asks the class of Hart Elementary students what kind of movie the music belongs in.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

When most school principals think about goals for the coming year, academics or maybe budgets usually top the list.

But Griselda Galindo-Vargas, the principal at Brooke Elementary, hopes for something else.

"We’re hoping that a new queen bee will come and find it," she said, referring to the beehives on campus. "And then it will bring another hive."

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Truman Hamade is new to journalism here in Austin, but he's hit the ground running. In the last few months he's covered Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, booked an interview with Dan Rather and is researching a story on Ballet Austin.

And he just turned double digits. 

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Austin Independent School District's headquarters on West Sixth Street will be turned into retail space.

AISD sold the property to Schlosser Development Corp. for $36.5 million last month.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT

Mendez Middle School in Southeast Austin has failed to meet state standards over the past four years. If it doesn’t improve academics by summer, it will face takeover.

Mendez is the only school in the Austin Independent School District in its fifth year of failing the annual state assessment, or STAAR, test. What’s going on?

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