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City of Austin Supports AISD Programs in New Budget

Today, the Austin City Council voted to support AISD’s community education programs, including the district’s parent support specialists and after-school programming as part of its 2014-15 budget.

The city funds to help support the district’s educational and community initiatives come at a critical time in relation to the Austin school district’s budget.

“In an era of austerity planning, Austin leaders are making critical choices about how to invest the city’s money. I am pleased our council members have identified AISD as a strategic investment in Austin’s future. I thank our AISD trustees and Austin council members for working together to identify and appropriate city resources to specifically support the needs of AISD’s community of students and families,” Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz said.

AISD continues to face challenges as the fiscal landscape of public education has changed. The unprecedented, permanent cuts by the state of $50 million in revenue beginning in 2012 have caused the district to eliminate costs wherever it can, while still providing the best programming possible to its students, Cruz said.

To support AISD’s services for students and families, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole made a motion to bolster the district’s parent support specialists program and Councilmember Kathie Tovo made a motion to support AISD’s after-school programs, whose federal 21st Century Community Learning Center grants have expired.

Today, the city council approved expenditures including:

  • $1.25 million to expand the reach of AISD’s parent support specialists, who develop family-friendly schools, help parents navigate school systems and engage parent leaders; and
  • $400,000 to maintain after-school programs at 10 AISD schools, which serve more than 2,400 students. The programs at Barrington, Harris, Norman, Pecan Springs, Winn and Wooten elementary schools, Fulmore Middle School, Bertha Sadler Means Young Women’s Leadership Academy, and Reagan and Travis high schools will be modeled on the city’s successful Prime Time after-school program.

The council also approved $133,700 for the aquatics division to add winter hours at Balcones, Bartholomew and Dick Nichols pools on a motion by Councilmember Tovo; and $43,000 in assistance for the district’s Family Resource Centers at five middle schools—Burnet, Dobie, Martin, Mendez and Webb—on a motion by Councilmember Laura Morrison. The latter is part of a $100,000 city investment in the district’s Family Resource Centers.

Separately, the council approved $312,000 for AISD’s Cable Channel 22 from the city’s Public, Educational and Government capital funding, which is drawn from cable fees to support public affairs and educational programming. Councilmember Morrison, made the motion for the PEG funding.

Although the state considers the district to be property-wealthy, about 52,000 AISD students are on free and reduced price lunch and about 23,000 students are English-language learners.

AISD estimates the district will have to send $175 million to the state through the recapture or “Robin Hood” program this year. AISD, Education Austin, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and key business leaders have asked the state to reduce the amount of local property taxes it takes from Austin’s school district to ensure AISD has sufficient funding to serve its students, the majority of whom are from economically disadvantaged families.

 


Interested in learning about the City of Austin's 2014-15 budget? Read about the approximately $3.5 billion budget the Austin City Council adopted today.