At his annual State of the District address, Superintendent Paul Cruz highlighted the district's recent successes, and also acknowledged that there is still work to be done.
Cruz gave his address during Austin Ed Fund's "Inspire the Future" luncheon at the AISD Performing Arts Center.
The district's successes include launching Travis Early College High School, the third ECHS in the district; achieving the highest graduation rate ever, 86.3 percent; and, for the first time, every AISD high school meeting all academic standards set by the Texas Education Agency.
"Academically we're in great shape, and the state of the district is strong," Cruz told an audience that included Sen. Kirk Watson and Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "But there is still more to do—you know it, and I know it."
Cruz focused on recapture payments the district sends to the state as one of AISD's biggest challenges.
"This year, we are set to give $273 million to the state," he said. "Do you know what $273 million could do? We could give every teacher more than $45,000 [on top of] their base pay."
Cruz said that no matter the challenges, the district will continue to focus on what's working in the classroom for teachers, students and their families.
An emphasis on STEM, computer science and coding, and health care careers will help prepare AISD students for their futures, Cruz said.
"To have a great district, you need to have a great vision," Cruz said. "And we're ready to face the challenges head-on."