Dividing Lines

Julia Reihs / KUT

Valerie Sterne has always known anecdotally that schools in Austin are segregated. She used to be a teacher and an administrator with the Austin Independent School District, and saw firsthand that students of color and low-income students were all attending the same schools. When she left to get her PhD in education policy, she decided to study the issue and get hard numbers. 

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.

Stephanie Hawley is the Austin Independent School District's first equity officer. She started her job Aug. 1, after serving as associate vice president of equity and inclusion at Austin Community College.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Stephanie Hawley was hired this summer as the Austin Independent School District's first equity officer. The position is intended to help ensure all students have an equal shot at academic success – a request many have been making for years.

Dawson Elementary School

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.

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.