Austin ISD begins planning process to form 'transformation zone' in northeast part of district

A plan to improve performance at Burnet Middle School is under review by Austin ISD trustees.

A plan to improve performance at Burnet Middle School is under review by Austin ISD trustees.

Six elementary schools and two middle schools in Northeast Austin could be exempt from certain Texas Education Code rules as part of a special zone designation in pursuit by Austin ISD.

A "transformation zone" is a group of campuses provided autonomy on decisions concerning staff, funding and academic programming, according to the district. In December AISD was awarded a grant of $446,681 by the Texas Education Agency to develop a plan for how each campus could take advantage of the designation if awarded.

"The planning grant allows us time to design, plan, and work with parents and community members to see if this is something we actually want to do," Superintendent Paul Cruz said at the board work session Jan. 8.

Schools identified for inclusion include Norman, Pickle, Barrington, Jordan, Oak Springs and Overton elementary schools as well as Garcia Young Men's Leadership Academy and Sadler-Means Young Women's Leadership Academy—all of which are located in Northeast Austin.

According to Administrative Supervisor Rachel Naugle, the goal of the transformation zone is to "improve and transform" campuses so that they might attract potential students living nearby. Teachers and principals given the responsibility to create and meet ambitious goals for student achievement and success would also be empowered by the designation, she said.

The TEA has preapproved seven design partners to help districts with the development of a transformation zone. Of those seven, Special Assistant to the Superintendent Jacob Reach said five have been identified by principals and representatives from campus advisory committees as optimal partners. Following additional community engagement, Reach said three potential partners will be submitted to the TEA on Jan. 12, and the district should hear back on the designated partner either later that day or on Jan. 15.

A plan for the transformation zone is due to the TEA in May. In July AISD could apply for an implementation grant. There is a chance that only some schools could be approved for implementation funding, Reach said, in which case he said the district would need a "plan b" for how to fund the improvements formed during the planning period.

By Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.


MOST RECENT

Austin, Travis County and Austin ISD officials gathered Sept. 24 to discuss local resilience planning. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin, Travis County, AISD look to build collaboration on community disaster hubs

The governments and school district are looking to grow a network of facilities that can provide resources to residents amid weather emergencies.

Screen shot of Desmar Walkes speaking at a press conference
Austin Public Health eyes possible shift to Stage 4 guidelines

Local health leaders said they want to see the current downward trend of COVID-19 hospitalizations persist before making any changes.

Kyle City Council voted 6-1 and approved the new citywide trail master plan that will utilize 2020 bond election funds for trails that will help connect Austin to San Antonio. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI Nation roundup: Perfect Game coming to Cedar Park; Kyle City Council approves trail master plan to connect Austin to San Antonio and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 24.

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said Sept. 23 though the district has been awarded emergency funding, it has only had access to a fraction of it. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD superintendent lays out barriers to receiving emergency funding

Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said while it seems that the district has received "millions and millions," it has been able to use a fraction of granted emergency funds.

Austin is one of five cities worldwide included in the company's new integration. (Benton Graham/Community Impact)
Electric scooter company Bird will now show available Capital Metro bikes in its app

Riding a scooter this weekend? Keep an eye out for Bird’s new integration with Capital Metro’s bikeshare.

Kevin Foster, an Austin ISD board trustee, alerted the board Sept. 23 to his concern about a police response at LBJ Early College High School last week. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD trustee questions police response after hoax 911 call

After a large police response to a falsely reported school shooting last week, one member of the Austin ISD board of trustees is concerned about police scaring students.

The Dripping Springs City Council voted to approve the budget and the ad valorem tax rate Sept. 21. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dripping Springs' FY 2021-22 budget increases about $1 million over last year

With about an 8% increase in property tax revenue and more in sales tax revenue, Dripping Springs increased its fiscal year 2021-22 budget by about $1 million over last year's.

Darin Dement, owner of Hillside Liquor, works in front of a poster of Austin's 1980s skyline. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Rapid development closes the gap between south, South Congress corridor and downtown

The 2-mile stretch of South Congress Avenue from William Cannon Drive to Slaughter Lane has changed dramatically in the last decade, with development accelerating since 2019.

The Far Out Lounge owner Pedro Corvhalo spends many days at the restaurant
with his puppy Billie. (Photos by Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Far Out Lounge: Owner of venue with history hopes to keep South Austin spirit alive

The building that now houses The Far Out Lounge has been “something” since 1908, owner Pedro Carvalho said.

Several parents of New Caney ISD students spoke at the district's Sept. 20 board meetings about recent allegations that a student brought a firearm to Porter High School's Sept. 18 homecoming dance. NCISD Superintendent Matt Calvert stressed that no gunshots were fired at the event, and that the district is investigating the allegations. (Wesley Gardner/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI Nation roundup: Round Rock ISD trustees considered for censuring; New Caney ISD addresses allegations of student with gun at campus event and more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Sept. 23.

Flights between Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and London-Heathrow will resume Oct. 13 for the first time in 17 months. (Courtesy Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)
British Airways to resume service from Austin to London in October

The flights will run three days per week and include COVID-19 safety measures for passengers.