Austin ISD trustees approve cap protecting Title 1 students as part of school change guiding principles

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz  said May 20 that the guiding principles will help the district make school change decisions.

Austin ISD Superintendent Paul Cruz said May 20 that the guiding principles will help the district make school change decisions.

Austin ISD trustees approved a theoretical percentage cap on the number of Title 1, or socioeconomically disadvantaged, students that will be directly impacted by the district's coming school closures and consolidation decisions.

The percentage cap was tacked onto a document of "guiding principles" May 20 that district staff will use when creating scenarios to close and consolidate schools, change school boundaries and to better use district resources. The amendment to the document passed 5-4, with trustees Ann Teich, Jayme Mathias, LaTisha Anderson, Arati Singh and Cindy Anderson voting for the amendment.

The amendment to the guiding principles came after multiple failed attempts by Teich and Mathias to have the document outline in more detail the district's plan to close schools in an equitable way when it comes to Title 1 families. Those amendments failed in 4-5 votes. Cindy Anderson had voted against the previous amendments during the course of the meeting before approving the percentage cap.

"I want to publicly thank Vice President [Cindy] Anderson for helping us to avert a catastrophe this evening," Mathias said. "We were heading to a 5-4 split on a vote of this, the guiding principles, with some trustees feeling that equity is not a value to this board. So glad that in the end we are able to at least come up with some language that's a bit of a compromise for us."

An exact percentage will be determined at a later date, possibly when the district hires an equity officer this summer. An earlier version of the amendment that failed had included a cap of 53% Title 1 students, which would have represented the exact percent of Title 1 students currently in the district.

Trustees who voted against the motion felt the cap could hinder the districts ability to consolidate schools. Also, other language in the document already outlined some goals when addressing socioeconomically disadvantaged students, and trustees were hesitant to amend the documents so late in the process.

"This isn't me wanting to keep an unnecessary burden on [Title 1 schools], this is an unfortunate reality of our district right now when we look at where families are going," said District 7 trustee Yasmin Wagner, who voted against the amendments. "We have more schools than we can support right now financially. Something's gotta give. How do we realize that in a way that doesn't impact [Title1 students]?"

LaTisha Anderson, whose District 1 represents much of East Austin, called voting down earlier amendments to included additional protections for socioeconomically disadvantaged students "a slap in the face" to people in her district.

"All means all. It don't mean District 1, it don't mean District 2, it means all," Anderson said, echoing the district's "All means all" catchphrase. "If District 1 and District 2 families have to face closure/consolidation/boundary change, so should Southwest Austin, so should Far West [neighborhoods]. It shouldn't be [only] students and families in District 1 having the hardships of being moved or being bused [across the city]. All means all."

Trustees ultimately approved the guiding principles document after the amendment in an 8-0-1 vote, giving district staff direction on how to proceed with the school change process. Austin ISD staff will present suggestions in August to consolidate schools and change boundaries to better use district resources.

Decreasing enrollment and required recapture payments caused an AISD budget shortfall in fiscal year 2018-19, and another shortfall will occur in FY 2019-20 if state lawmakers do not pass school finance reform this legislative session. School consolidations and boundary changes could help the district save money and create right-sized campuses across the district.

Made up of 22 bullets and broken down into five main categories, the guiding principles outline school change goals that:

  • assure students have equal access to school programs;

  • give students access to modernized school facilities;

  • balance neighborhood schools and feeder pattern populations;

  • optimize current facilities; and

  • reduce non-teaching costs associated with facilities and transportation.


 
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


MOST RECENT

Central Health administrative building in Austin
Central Health finalizes budget with increased tax rate, more health care services for low-income residents

Local health care district Central Health is budgeting a nearly $20 million increase in health care delivery services for Austin’s low-income residents.

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Baylor Scott & White Health to host 9 Austin-area drive-thru flu shot clinics

"This season is a big, black box, and there are a lot of unknowns, as far as what the season's going to look like," said Dr. Bradley Berg, a BSW pediatrics doctor in Round Rock.

South Austin-based gym Austin Barbell relocated to a new space Sept. 10.  (Courtesy Austin Barbell)
Rolling in Thyme and Dough opening a new drive-thru, plus more South Austin and Dripping Springs business news

Here are five recent updates from South Austin and Dripping Springs businesses.

A band performs at the Mohawk on Red River Street. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Six months into pandemic, Austin officials scrambling to save music venues, child care facilities and restaurants

City Council is set to begin making choices on which businesses to try to save on Oct. 1.

Dr. Sam Rolon is a physician for Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine in The Woodlands. (Courtesy St. Luke's Health)
Q&A: St. Luke's physician shares advice on flu season, vaccine and prevention

The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly all patients of all ages ahead of this year's flu season, Dr. Sam Rolon said.

student in mask
TEA launches statewide COVID-19 dashboard for public schools

The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has launched its latest COVID-19 dashboard for positive cases in Texas public schools.

Austin City Limits Music Festival will present a free virtual broadcast from Oct. 9-11. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Free virtual broadcast of ACL Music Festival to be held Oct. 9-11 and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Sept. 17 that data from Texas' 22 hospital regions will dictate when certain businesses can reopen at 75% capacity. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, gyms can reopen at 75% capacity as early as Sept. 21

Nursing home and long-term care facilities will also be allowed to reopen for visitation as early as Sept. 24.

From left: District 2 candidates include Alex Strenger, David Chincanchan and Vanessa Fuentes. (Courtesy ATXN)
City Council candidates for Southeast Austin District 2 speak on how to address the area’s food deserts

Three candidates for the District 2 Austin City Council discussed a range of topics at the Sept. 16 League of Women Voters panel.

Austin City Limits Music Festival will present a free virtual broadcast from Oct. 9-11. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Limits Music Festival to present virtual broadcast Oct. 9-11

The in-person form of the 2020 festival was canceled for the first time since it began in 2002.

Army Futures Command leadership tour renovations to the Austin Community College Rio Grande Campus with ACC Chancellor Richard Rhodes and trustee Gigi Edwards Bryant. (Courtesy Austin Community College)
Austin Community College, Army Futures Command to launch software incubator program this winter

The program will be located at the renovated ACC Rio Grande campus in downtown Austin.