Austin ISD, Austin Community College top officials reflect on 2016 ​

The 2016-17 Austin ISD board of trustees, from left: Edmund T. Gordon, Distict 1; Ann Teich, District 3; Amber Elenz, District 5; Julie Cowan, District 4; Kendall Pace, At large 9; Paul Saldaña, District 6; Cindy Anderson, At large 8; Yasmin Wagner, District 7; Jayme Mathias, District 2 The 2016-17 Austin ISD board of trustees, from left: Edmund T. Gordon, Distict 1; Ann Teich, District 3; Amber Elenz, District 5; Julie Cowan, District 4; Kendall Pace, At large 9; Paul Saldaña, District 6; Cindy Anderson, At large 8; Yasmin Wagner, District 7; Jayme Mathias, District 2[/caption]

AUSTIN ISD

Achievements in 2016


Graduation rate
AISD hit its highest graduation rate of 89.7 percent, up by 3.4 percent over the prior year and by more than 15 percent since 2008.


Competitive SAT scores
AISD’s average SAT composite score again exceeded state and national averages—a trend since 2013.


All-time high average ACT score
AISD students again earned higher overall scores on the ACT exam in 2015-16 compared with their counterparts across the state and nation. The average ACT composite score of 22.5 was an all-time high for the district.


AP District Honor Roll
For the first time ever, AISD was honored by the College Board with placement on the AP District Honor Roll through AISD’s success in increasing the number of students in Advanced Placement courses while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP exam scores of 3 or higher for three consecutive years.



Top issues for 2017


Facilities master plan
AISD will work with the Facility and Bond Planning Advisory Committee and the Austin community to update the facilities master plan—a road map to modernize all district schools and facilities over the next 15 to 20 years.


Social-emotional learning
AISD will continue the integration of social-emotional learning at all AISD schools, supported by four Austin donors.


Dual-language and early-college high schools
AISD will continue its commitment to providing choices to students and families, whether they are interested in dual-language programs or early-college high schools.


Finances
AISD will continue to work with state legislators to improve Texas’ school finance system. AISD is the single largest payer of recapture in the state—AISD’s payment alone comprises 13 percent of all state collections.



A question for Paul Cruz, superintendent


How does the district plan to address the issue of state recapture in 2017?
We will continue to work with our legislators on this issue. Despite sending millions of dollars back to the state each year, AISD has maintained a balanced budget. However, to retain teachers, we need to be more competitive. Currently, more than 35 cents of every AISD maintenance and operation tax dollar collected is kept by the state because AISD is considered property-wealthy under the state’s recapture law, also known as Robin Hood.







The Austin Community College board of trustees from left: Sean Hassan, Place 4; Julie Ann Nitsch, Place 9; Betty Hwang, Place 8; Mark Williams, Place 1; Gigi Bryant, Place 2; CEO and President Richard Rhodes; Barbara Mink, Place 7; Nicole Eversmann, Place 5; Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Place 6; Nan McRaven, Place 3 The Austin Community College board of trustees from left: Sean Hassan, Place 4; Julie Ann Nitsch, Place 9; Betty Hwang, Place 8; Mark Williams, Place 1; Gigi Bryant, Place 2; CEO and President Richard Rhodes; Barbara Mink, Place 7; Nicole Eversmann, Place 5; Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Place 6; Nan McRaven, Place 3[/caption]

AUSTIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE



Big decisions made in 2016


Guided Pathways executed
The community college system in 2016 began a strategy to help students excel academically and graduate on time through additional guidance and counseling, from the ACC application process to job searching and graduation. Rhodes said results can already be seen in higher graduation rates.


Texas A&M engineering partnership
Beginning this fall, up to 100 students enrolled at ACC will be eligible to earn a bachelor’s degree from the Texas A&M University College of Engineering.


ACCelerator grows
Located on the Highland campus, ACCelerator offers a self-paced course in developmental math at the state-of-the-art technology lab. JPMorgan Chase & Co. donated $250,000 in June to expand the Career ACCelerator Program, which focuses on technology and computer programming.



Top issues for 2017


RN to BSN program
If state lawmakers allow ACC to confer four-year nursing degrees, ACC must then apply to receive program accreditation through the South Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges by proving the critical need for nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, degree.


Dual-credit enrollment
ACC is watching Texas legislators’ decisions on who should pay for dual-enrollment—in which high school students earn college credits—how soon students should enroll and how rigorous the courses should be.


Implementing campus carry
The law that allows people with concealed handgun licenses to carry guns on community college campuses must be implemented Aug. 1. A team of faculty and staff is currently working to implement the process by modeling policy from universities that have already enacted the law as it waits to hear whether state lawmakers will modify the law.



A question for Richard Rhodes, ACC district president and CEO


When will Phase 2 of the Highland campus be complete?
The Jan. 31 opening of the ACC biosciences incubator marks the beginning of Phase 2, which is slated to be completed in less than three years.