Education

Austin ISD, the University of Texas, Austin Community College, Texas A&M University, charter schools, legislative issues, and anything else related to K-12, public education, higher education and workforce development in Central Texas, Travis County, and Austin.

Image courtesy Austin Independent School District

The Austin Independent School District will take public input tomorrow and Thursday nights on a proposal that—as it's currently written—would close eight elementary schools and a middle school.

The schools on the block currently are Joslin, Pease, Brooke, Ortega, Oak Springs, Sanchez, Barton Springs and Zilker Elementary Schools and Pearce Middle School.

Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

A massive influx of young children to the Austin Independent School District will cause more than third of AISD elementary schools to be bursting at the seams by 2015-16 school year, according to a demographic projection and

Image courtesy Jonathan Pobre http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonnny/

The Texas Education Agency isn't the only organization bracing for cuts to education spending as lawmakers look to rein in a budget gap that could exceed $25 billion.  School districts are also girding for what they dread will be severe cuts to public education.

Round Rock ISD has enacted a hiring freeze, as we reported yesterday.  

Image courtesy Forty Two http://www.flickr.com/photos/samxf42/

The Round Rock Independent School District says it is implementing a hiring freeze in anticipation of budget cuts in the upcoming Texas legislative session.

In a release today, Round Rock ISD Superintendent Dr. Jesús. H. Chávez said the district is reducing spending by at least five percent - or about $17 million - in preparation for the cuts in state education.

University of Texas campus
Image by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

We're beginning to see the consequences of state budget cuts at Texas' public universities. The Chronicle of Higher Education's Katherine Mangan reports today how more than 130 tenured professors at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have accepted buyouts.

While the early retirements are expected to save nearly $18 million annually, they also carry administrative consequences for their colleges, Mangan reports.

AISD headquarters
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The Austin Independent School District began accepting transfer requests today, and for the first time, AISD is using a lottery system to award transfers. The end of the longstanding first-come-first-served system means parents no longer have to camp overnight outside school district headquarters to improve their child's odds of having the transfer request granted.

"This will be just a much more family friendly process," AISD spokesperson Carmen Luevanos told KUT News.

Texas A&M University recently barred its employees from telling students to file open records requests under the state's public information act. Now, a group of fifteen journalism organizations is weighing in on the debate.

A letter from the groups, posted on the Poynter journalism blog, accuses the University of using a "potentially illegal" policy to "squelch investigations by its own students."

Gary Chapman
Image courtesy LBJ School of Public Affairs

The LBJ School of Public Affairs is reporting that senior lecturer Gary Chapman died of an apparent heart attack yesterday during a kayaking trip in Guatemala.

Sign at AISD headquarters
Image by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

We already knew the Austin Independent School District missed federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards this year, but the district held out hope it could appeal and improve its ranking.

Image courtesy Comptroller's Office

As state leaders look for places to trim spending underneath a looming budget shortage that could surpass $20 billion, the Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today unveiled a new online tool that she says will allow anyone to rate how well schools are using money.

KUT News intern Nick Robertson was returning from a protest marking the anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy when he noticed a group University of Texas undergrads doing this over and over and over on Guadalupe Street. 

Protest at University of Texas
Image by Nick Robertson for KUT News

A group of students, faculty, and staff walked out of their buildings and held a loud marching demonstration this morning on the University of Texas campus.  They were protesting existing and future budget cuts brought on largely as a result of the state's budget gap, a shortfall that could exceed $20 billion.

Joe Dan Lee
Image courtesy Georgetown ISD

Georgetown Independent School District has a new superintendent. GISD's Board of Trustees elected Joe Dan Lee to serve as the district's top administrator. Lee was already acting-superintendent since the departure of Abbe Boring in July.

Childhood obesity is one of those extremely complicated issues that is affected by many interrelated factors like family income, where you live, and your level of education.  An annual study that looks at obesity rates across America says Texas has the 7th highest rate of childhood obesity in the country. 

As we've reported in the past, the southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the city.

crayons
flickr.com/laffy4k

The Austin teachers' association Education Austin is planning to stage a rally tonight outside Austin Independent School District headquarters. The local group, representing about 4,000 teachers and school staff, wants the Austin ISD school board to maintain full-day pre-kindergarten and not reduce planning time for high school teachers.

KUT’s Ben Philpott spoke with Rae Nwosu, co-president of Education Austin.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Office-dwellers at UT today let out a collective groan as plans to cut back on custodial services were announced. Laurie Lentz, the communications coordinator for UT Facility Services, explained that the changes will predominantly affect offices.

“Where you’re really going to see the change is in the individual offices. For those offices we are going to gradually phase in a monthly cleaning as opposed to a weekly cleaning schedule” said Lentz.

ACC Riverbat
Image courtesy Austin Community College

Austin Community College unveiled its new mascot today, the Riverbat! They emailed us these photos this afternoon. Click on the image for a slideshow. 

Details on the event on their Facebook page

Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Meria Carstarphen
Photo by KUT News

The Austin Independent School District is making great strides academically but must better equip students to cope with future technology.  That's the assessment Superintendent Meria Carstarphen gave in her "State of the District" speech on the University of Texas campus this morning.  While noting that AISD schools have improved in meeting TAKS standards, the superintendent also said the problems are mounting for students and teachers.

Sally Ride
Image courtesy Sally Ride Science

The first American woman to travel in space was in Austin today. Dr. Sally Ride gave the keynote address at an annual luncheon for GirlStart, a local non-profit devoted to getting girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

Ride spoke by cellphone with KUT before catching a trip home to San Diego.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

An AP investigation published in several papers this morning found that dozens of "property-wealthy" school districts held on to money they were supposed to send to the state under the so-called Robin Hood law.

The Austin Independent School District will officially dedicate its newest elementary school on Sunday at 2 p.m. Ross F. Baldwin Elementary was constructed over the course of a year at 12200 Meridian Park Blvd.

Ask someone with a University of Texas email account to speak honestly about the service, and they might struggle to contain their frustration. While major web-based email services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail have quickly advanced their features and storage capacity, the University of Texas and its Microsoft Exchange service has fallen behind.

Undergrads, for example, get only 150 MB of storage, which means they often have to delete old emails to send new ones. The features offered by UT's web-based email are also limited.

DREAM Act rally at University of Texas at Austin
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Undocumented immigrant students attending the University of Texas at Austin took the risky step of coming out before news cameras today to announce their status and call for swift passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).

The DREAM Act would provide a six-year conditional path to citizenship for young people who qualify. They would need to complete a college degree or perform two years of military service.

AISD Carruth Administration Center
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

When the Austin Independent School District constructs a school, it doesn't always know how many children that building will have to serve in ten, twenty, or thirty years' time.

Eanes ISD logo
Logo courtesy of the Eanes Independent School District

Last night voters in the Eanes Independent School District said no to three bond proposals totaling about $150 million.  Wednesday morning Eanes ISD Board President Paul Stone told KUT News that another, smaller bond proposal could be in the works for early next year.

Armed Austin police officer
Image by Caleb Bryant Miller for KUT News

Our friends at Reporting Texas, an internet news site edited by journalism graduate students at the University of Texas, just put together this interactive Google Map of college shootings across America.  It seems particularly timely, given that it's been a little over a month since 19-year-old Colton Tooley brought his AK-47 to the UT-Austin campus.

Hallway at Eastside Memorial High School
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin School Trustees are holding a special meeting tonight to discuss a personnel matter that pits some teachers at Eastside Global Tech High against the school's principal.

Artist's rendering of Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex
Image courtesy University of Texas

Students and faculty in UT's computer science program are currently spread across seven different buildings. That will all change in 18 to 24 months when the new Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex opens.

A scare at Texas A&M University this afternoon after a bus driver called police and reported what he thought was a gunman carrying an AK-47-like weapon.

A&M campus police issued an alert and instructed students to "shelter in place". Uncertainty swirled for about an hour, as police searched for the reported 'gunman'. Adding to the concern was the scheduled ribbon cutting involving Fmr. President Bush Sr., his wife and daughter-in-law.

Bastrop ISD logo
Image courtesy Bastrop ISD website

A Bastrop man is planning a rally and prayer service this Saturday to bring attention to what he says is "potential discriminatory hiring and unethical employment standards" at Bastrop ISD.

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