BAC approves final Boone and Cowan plan; Baranoff and Kiker vote delayed until next week

Oak Parke residents hold signs asking Austin ISD's Boundary Advisory Committee to consider keeping their community zoned to Baranoff Elementary School or to move them to the new Southwest Elementary School.

Oak Parke residents hold signs asking Austin ISD's Boundary Advisory Committee to consider keeping their community zoned to Baranoff Elementary School or to move them to the new Southwest Elementary School.

Update: July 30, 2019, 10:15 a.m.

According to the Boundary Advisory Committee's website, the group will not meet to discuss additional boundary selections until mid-August. Meeting information will be posted to the website "as soon as the date, time and location are verified." The group had previously discussed meeting sometime during the week of July 29.

Original: July 25, 2019, 8:46 a.m.
At what was tentatively scheduled as the last Boundary Advisory Committee meeting to discuss and make final selections for Southwest Austin school rezoning, Austin ISD’s BAC July 23 selected two plans while delaying the vote for two other schools.

BAC selected a final boundary play for Boone and Cowan elementary schools and a final boundary plan for Gorzycki Middle School. Both plans will head to the superintendent's office for official review before being sent to the district's board of trustees for approval this fall.

Plans for Baranoff and Kiker elementary schools are still being evaluated, with decisions likely to come at a meeting still to be scheduled for next week.

BAC members requested district staff draw up additional data and plans related to the schools based on recent public feedback and a new plan presented by residents of the Oak Parke community.

Boone and Cowan plan selected
In a reversal of a preliminary decision made May 29, BAC members voted to select Plan 13 for Cowan and Boone rezoning.

To reduce overcrowding at Cowan and add students to under-enrolled Boone, Plan 13 sends students at the Bella Vista Apartments to Boone, with all of the Sendera community staying at Cowan. Students currently zoned to Cowan in the neighborhoods of Ridgeview, Brodie Springs, Maple Run and Deer Park will also be moved to Boone, according to AISD documents.

Plan 13 was selected over the previously supported Plan 9, which would have split the Sendera neighborhood in half at Davis Lane, sending the north half to Boone and keeping Bella Vista Apartments at Cowan.

According to AISD Director of Planning Melissa Laursen, public feedback gathered at two open houses held July 18 and 20 indicated community support for Plan 13. Community members wanted BAC to avoid splitting Sendera into two sections, and also noted that the Bella Vista Apartments are closer and more walkable than the Sendera neighborhood is to Boone, she said.

“If Austin ISD is a neighborhood school district we should try to honor that as best as possible,” BAC member Erica Boyd said prior to the groups 14-1-1 vote in support of the plan

Kiker and Baranoff decisions delayed
After a lengthy discussion about boundaries for Kiker Elementary School and the future Southwest Elementary School, BAC members requested additional data and plans be drawn up related to the schools.

An option currently on the table is a modified version of Plan B. The original Plan B, which was recommended by the BAC June 13, would send students in Circle C Ranch south of South Bay Lane to the new elementary school instead of Kiker.

Laursen said that based on public feedback, residents were concerned the original plan being considered would reduce walkability in Circle C Ranch and divide the community. Residents were also concerned about sending students south across SH 45 to the new school, she said. Others reiterated that Kiker indeed needs enrollment relief.

The modified proposal would draw a boundary line at SH 45, keeping all of Circle C currently zoned for Kiker at Kiker and reserving the new school for only the Greyrock and Avania communities. The proposal would supply some relief at Kiker—currently overcrowded at 150% its enrollment capacity—however, the school would still be enrolled above the district’s target of 115%.

Concerns about the modified plan also include opening Southwest Elementary School under enrolled at about 70% of its enrollment capacity, while the district hopes to open new schools at above 75%. However, enrollment projections at the new school do not include pre-k students, a program that could be added to the campus.

Additionally, Oak Parke residents—who face being rezoned from Baranoff to Kocurek —presented a community-created plan that would bus Oak Parke students to the new elementary school instead of Kocurek. Called “Plan J”, the new plan would also keep current Kiker students north of SH 45 at Kiker instead of moving them to the new elementary school. According to the plan, Southwest Elementary would open above 75%.

During public comment, Oak Parke parent Rachael Torres said that a petition to support the new Plan J gathered over 200 signatures from the Oak Parke community. While the majority of the community’s parents would still like to stay at Baranoff, where students are currently zoned, she said the community prefers Plan J over the previously selected recommendation.

BAC asked the district to develop an official presentation for Plan J and will consider it as well as other options at the next meeting. BAC members discussed holding the meeting July 29, but the exact date, time and location for the meeting has not yet been posted on the district’s website.


A sign directs voters inside Ridgetop Elementary School in North Central Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
11.8% of voters in Travis County have voted early since June 29, exceeding 2018 primary numbers

More than 97,000 Travis County residents have voted in person or by mail. The turnout far surpassed the combined early and Election Day totals in the 2018 primary run-off election.

A photo of the potential Tesla property
Travis County updates Tesla incentive package, pushing for $1 billion-plus investment from the company

Poised for a possible July 13 vote, Travis County has released a refined incentives structure proposal with electric carmaker Tesla.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The building would be used as a 15,000-square-foot real estate office near Stearns Lane. (Site plan courtesy Townbridge Homes)
New office building could be headed to W. Hwy. 290 in South Austin

The building would be used as a 15,000 square-foot real estate office near Stearns Lane.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

The city of Austin has sent three samples of algae from Lady Bird Lake to The University of Texas to test them for toxins. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of Texas researchers will test Lady Bird Lake algae for harmful toxins

Last summer, five dogs died in Lady Bird Lake after coming into contact with the toxic blue-green algae.

A photo of Del Valle ISD's Cardinal stadium
Del Valle ISD approves Tesla incentives, paving way for possible Travis County agreement

The school district's July 9 vote could yield Tesla around $46.4 million in tax abatements if the company chooses Travis County as its next factory site.

Travis County has had 13,864 total confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic as of July 9. (Community Impact staff)
Travis County tops 700 new COVID-19 cases for second straight day July 9

Travis County has had 13,864 total confirmed coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

An employee at Terry Black's Barbecue in Austin works in a mask May 1. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin’s new law: Follow health authority rules or face $2,000 penalty

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott is set to publish new orders mandating masks and social distancing this week.

Big Sky Ranch community sign
700 homes now for sale in Dripping Springs’ new Big Sky Ranch community

The new community is located near Founders Memorial Park.