Missed any of our articles from last week? Take a look at some of the top stories from Community Impact’s coverage areas in Austin from April 17-21.

1. Austin ISD asks TEA for review in response to proposed conservatorship

What's happening

Austin ISD issued a response to the Texas Education Agency seeking an informal review regarding the assignment of a conservator over the special education department.

The informal review requested by the district will be made by the TEA, AISD Board President Arati Singh said. Singh said if the TEA assigns a conservator following the informal review, the district will have an opportunity to file a petition for review with the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Once the SOAH makes its decision, there will be no more opportunities for review, and the SOAH's decision will be final.

What officials are saying

“We understand the severity of this problem and take full ownership in addressing it,” AISD interim Superintendent Matias Segura said in a released statement on April 17. "We want to ensure the best possible alignment between our efforts as a district and the efforts of the state for the ultimate benefit of our students.”

Segura said district leaders believe the least disruptive way to build momentum toward improvements to special education is to allow time for the comprehensive special education plan—which was developed this spring—to take hold.

Read the full story by Amanda Cutshall.

2. Council questions oversight and policing strategies as Austin police tout early success of DPS patrols

Austin City Council's first public review of the ongoing partnership with the Texas Department of Public Safety provided new details on how the local patrol operation is playing out, while many questions about the program's outcomes and oversight remain.

How we got here

An Austin Police Department collaboration with Texas DPS was unveiled by Mayor Kirk Watson in late March stemming from discussions he said he had with state leaders, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott. The operation, which comes at no cost to the city, kicked off March 30.

Watson and other officials said the move was made to address public safety issues and to make residents feel safer. The DPS partnership is aimed specifically at violent crime and traffic violations while the city's police department remains short-staffed and is taking more time to respond to calls for service.

Watson and Police Chief Joseph Chacon have reiterated that the operation is meant to supplement local police activity in the city. Chacon also said he intends for APD officers to still handle most, if not all, calls for service even if DPS troopers are first on the scene.

“They’re not here to take over. They’re certainly not here to cause harm or to cause anxiety. That is not their mission," he said. "Their mission is to help, and that is clearly communicated at the outset of every new squad that comes in to work in the city to make sure that that is the mindset, that we’re here to keep citizens safe."

Read the full story by Ben Thompson.

3. Median home prices drop 15% in Austin

Prices are dropping, inventory is rising, and the housing market is starting to move at a healthy pace, Austin Board of RealtorsMarch report shows.

By the numbers

In March, median home prices in the city of Austin dropped just over 15% year over year to $529,495. Median home prices in the Central Austin region also dipped about 10% year over year from $795,000 in March 2022 to $700,000 last month.

ABoR’s report shows monthly housing inventory has continued to trend upward in Austin, with 2.8 months on inventory last month compared to only half a month of inventory in March 2022. Housing inventory in the Central Austin region reached 3.6 months last month, a 500% increase since last year.

Austin’s active listings surged 307.9% last month to 2,166 listings. New listings also ticked up about 10% year over year.

Interpreting the data

Clare Losey, ABoR’s housing economist, said the drop in home prices and steady uptick of housing inventory are signs the market is stabilizing after an abnormal market during the height of the pandemic.

Read the full story by Katy McAfee.

4. San Antonio and surrounding communities kick off Fiesta 2023

What originally started in 1891 as a “Battle of Flowers” parade to commemorate pivotal battles for Texas independence has become an annual, citywide, multiday celebration with 100-plus events, ranging from outdoor festivals to black-tie galas. Each Fiesta event raises funds for a local nonprofit or community cause. This year’s Fiesta officially runs April 20-30. This is a noncomprehensive guide.

Know before you go


The cost varies by event, and some activities are free to enter. The Fiesta Commission urges revelers to explore individual event websites for admission and other details at www.fiestasanantonio.org/official-fiesta-event-calendar.

Shopping and souvenirs

Find Fiesta merchandise online at www.vivafiesta.com. Some proceeds go to Fiesta participating member organizations. Fiesta medals can be found at events, through individual organizations and at www.fiestamedalssa.com.


While most Fiesta events are in the downtown area, attendees are urged to check event details on available public parking, take a ride-hailing service, or check www.viainfo.net to use VIA Metropolitan Transit, which will offer special Fiesta ride rates.

Read the full story by Tricia Schwennesen.

5. Austin designated Bird City, strengthens efforts toward bird-friendly initiatives

What's happening

In February, Austin was named an official Bird City by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Audubon Texas for its efforts toward creating bird-friendly initiatives.

City officials made the announcement April 19; however, the certification was presented in February. Officials said the designation will allow for more protection for the bird habitats throughout Austin.

How we got here

Some initiatives supported by the Austin City Council include the Lights Out Resolution, enacted in 2021, and the World Migratory Bird Day Resolution, enacted in 2022. This designation was due to a collaboration among the Austin Parks & Recreation Department, Travis Audubon, and other city departments and nonprofit organizations, officials said in a press release April 19.

What officials are saying

“I’m proud that Austin is now officially a Bird City,” Austin City Council Member Alison Alter said in a released statement. “Austinites value our parks and greenspaces. This partnership between Austin Parks and Recreation and Travis Audubon further solidifies our commitment to protecting our urban habitats and providing wildlife education.”

Travis Audubon Executive Director Nicole Netherton said in a released statement that Austinites have a long history of protecting the environment and that birds have always been a big part of that protection.

Read the full story by Amanda Cutshall.