A Statement on Equity from Board President Geronimo Rodriguez

The Austin ISD Board of Trustees is committed to seeing that all our students are nurtured in 21st-century learning spaces with high caliber educational offerings focused on student performance and well-being.  

During the coming months, the Board of Trustees will continue to work with the Superintendent to ensure we invest in our most important assets, our student’s and their success.  

An important part of our journey will be done through an equity lens and our working together to define what the word equity means to us as a district. We are committed to developing shared definitions and expectations of equity across Austin ISD consistent with our Board priorities, 1) student well-being and achievement/success, 2) Equity/needs of all students, 3) Teacher and employee well-being (financial, professional, physical, and mental), 4) Culture of respect/customer service, and 5) Fiscal stewardship and prioritization.  

To that end and arising from these priorities, we have started conversations about the efficient and smart use of all AISD facilities. This will most likely include but is not limited to boundary changes, repurposing of facilities and school consolidations. We understand listening to our community will be essential and therefore, at the forefront of our intentions. We will work with the Superintendent to ensure the process is consistently applied across the district. Our goals are to have more students in modernized spaces sooner and benefitting from inspiring and future-ready educational programming. Our intention is to refine the process and timeline based on our community’s needs. 

Throughout the conversations, we will subscribe to the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities and the equity definition from the National Equity Project as we interrupt practices that negatively impact struggling students, especially if these struggles relate to a student’s color, race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or identification, national origin, language, religion, disability or any other protection under the law. To this end, we are excited to announce that the Superintendent will move forward with the hiring of an Equity Officer.  

The following definition of equity from the National Equity Project will guide our transformational work: 

Equity is….  

  • Reducing the predictability of who succeeds and who fails 
  • Interrupting reproductive practices that negatively impact struggling students of color 
  • Cultivating the unique gifts and talents of every student  

Our Superintendent, Dr. Paul Cruz, served as one of the co-chairs for the Austin Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities. The Task Force’s “Education Working Group was charged with exploring and reporting back to [the community] on how institutional racism and systemic inequities manifests in Austin’s education system, and who is affected by it. Through a series of meetings, dialogues, data review and group presentations, [they] discovered that institutional racism and systemic inequities are present throughout our educational system; including the hiring and staffing practices; curriculum and instruction; the unveiled State's accountability measures; admission; access policies and practices; and the pathways and supports for leadership and capacity building for our educators and education leaders.” (Mayors Task Force on Institutional Racism Report, page 6)  

We continue to support mission inspired changes through a collaborative partnership with the Superintendent, alignment of our actions to our mission, vision, and values through the budget and strategic planning processes, support of the Superintendent's leadership and realization of the Board’s expectations regarding community engagement, strategic communication, and excellent customer service.  

Together, we are committed to a transparent process with our community and to do what is best for the students of Austin ISD. We look forward to continuing to engage the community for a better and stronger Austin ISD, drafting an equity policy and providing strategic direction in collaboration with the Superintendent and the new Equity Officer.