Austin ISD to discuss single-sex school options Jan. 7

At its next discussion Jan. 7, the Austin ISD board of trustees plans to talk about two recommendations that aim to add single-sex schools to the district.

While both of these annual academic and facilities recommendations (AAFRs) pertain to single-sex education, they would affect different schools and students depending on the board's eventual decisions.

Board discusses school for young men

One of Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's AAFRs is to add a districtwide school for young men during the 2013–14 school year. At the Jan. 7 work session, trustees plan to discuss whether they want such a school and where it should be located.

A planning team consisting of AISD staff and community members held meetings about possible scenarios for the boys school, which would be a companion school to the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.

One proposed option was co-locating the boys school with an existing middle school. Covington, Garcia, Lamar, Martin and Pearce middle schools were among the sites considered. Students at the existing school would be reassigned to other middle schools. Feedback from teachers, students and parents indicated co-location is not the preferred option, according to Carstarphen.

Instead, the planning team supports another option—renovating the Alternative Learning Center at 901 Neal St., using it as the site for the school, and relocating its current services elsewhere. Board approval of this would delay implementation to the 2014–15 school year and add it to the proposed scope of work for a possible May 2013 bond election.

At the board's Dec. 17 meeting, President Vincent Torres said the school for young men is scheduled for discussion in early January and a board vote in January.

"For the AISD community and for all our stakeholders and partners, the board welcomes receiving any further input you may have on this item as we continue our discussions in January," Torres said.

Single-sex plans proposed for Pearce, Garcia middle schools

The board is also discussing establishing single-sex middle schools at Pearce and Garcia middle schools.

The first proposed scenario would establish two single-sex middle schools serving 500 boys and 500 girls in sixth through eighth grades in a combined attendance area. Students choosing not to attend one of the single-sex middle schools would be assigned to another school such as Dobie, Lamar, Martin, or Webb. Two other scenarios were also proposed—one serving 250 girls and 250 boys, and one in which Garcia and Pearce would remain coed.

After seeking public input, visiting similar schools, and attending presentations on single-sex education results, the planning team is encouraging combining the attendance area of Garcia and Pearce and establishing two single-sex schools.

No action is required at the work session. More information is available at www.austinisd.org.