By Eduardo Villa
Austin ISD could move forward with a Request for Proposal for an equity assessment as early as Oct. 28, according to an update provided at last week’s meeting.
Why it matters: The district approved its budget calendar for the upcoming school year despite little progress on an equity assessment that the community has called for. Community members expressed their frustration during community meetings and the Sept. 23 Regular Board Meeting.
- “This assessment will not be completed in time to affect the conversation leading up to the adoption of the 2022-23 school year budget,” a public testimony caller said.
- “Where in the budget development calendar is the equity audit?” another caller asked. “The equity audit is something the community has been asking for over five years and should inform the writing of the budget.”
The big picture: Originally, the plan was for the Equity Advisory Committee's Request for Proposal Subcommittee, which is made up mostly of community members, to draft the request for proposals, which goes to potential vendors describing the work. Now the committee is asking Austin ISD to take the reins on the request for proposal.
- [The subcommittee members] have asked us – as the district – if they could provide us a list with the areas of focus and have the district write up the [request for proposal],” said Dr. Tamey Williams-Hill, Campus Equity and Inclusion Specialist.
The deadline for the Request for Proposal to be submitted is Oct. 28 and the board could vote to approve a contractor in March 2022. If approved, work on the assessment could begin as soon as April 2022.
Yes, but: If the equity assessment doesn’t begin till April, it would “be too late to truly inform the budget,” Trustee Arati Singh stated.
While the equity assessment may not be ready for the budgeting process, equity will continue to be a factor during the development, said Superintendent Stephanie S. Elizalde.
- “While it may seem that it's taking longer, we want to ensure that it's being done with the due diligence and inclusivity that we talked about,” Elizalde said.
What’s next: The Request for Proposal Subcommittee is working on a way to gather input from the community, staff, students and leadership on the list of items the equity assessment should focus on.
Clarification: A previous version of the story stated the Board of Trustees would vote on an equity assessment on Oct. 28. The board will vote on an equity assessment in March 2022, not Oct. 28.