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Oct. 1 Board Work Session/Dialogue Meeting

AISD Internet Safety Plan

Chief Human Capital Officer Michael Houser and Executive Director for Technology John Alawneh presented AISD’s Internet Safety Plan for board discussion. The plan supports the district's priorities of addressing and preventing cyber-bullying, promoting good digital citizenship among students and ensuring online safety and security for all users–especially children.

AISD’s Internet Safety Plan complies with board policy, as well as the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act, the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act.

Results of Enterprise Risk Assessment

Lon Heuer of the Gibson Consulting Group presented its findings and recommendations for a risk assessment study of Austin ISD. The Texas Association of School Boards and Gibson began a pilot program during the spring and summer as a potential way for districts to save money during difficult economic times.  Austin ISD participated in the pilot phase and contracted with TASB and Gibson to conduct a risk assessment and develop a long-range audit plan.

The risk assessment conducted by the Gibson Consulting Group provided the Board of Trustees with a list of auditable areas and a long-range audit plan for the district. These were among the key findings of the report:

  • The historical approach to Internal Audit planning does not adequately address audit risks.
  • Key business processes for managing revenues and expenditures appear sufficiently controlled.
  • Internal audit skill sets needs to be upgraded through training and/or supplemented with outside assistance to conduct the new audits (e.g. technology, construction, academic program management, special education).
  • Opportunities exist to improve confidential reporting (ethics) hotline.
  • Significant internal audit resources are devoted to low risk areas (e.g. campus activity funds), while several higher risk areas have not been subject to internal audits.

The presentation also included information about risk scoring, risk factor definitions and long-range audit planning.

Preliminary Scenarios for the Development of the Annual Academic and Facilities Recommendations: School for Young Men, and Garcia and Pearce Middle Schools Program Design, District 1

The board considered two preliminary AAFR scenarios. The first, a proposed School for Young Men, would open at the start of the 2013-14 school year. The second, a new program design for Garcia and Pearce Middle Schools, would be implemented in 2014-15.

Data indicate that there are district-wide achievement gaps between girls and boys, among racial/ethnic groups, and between girls and boys within racial/ethnic groups. This disparity is also evident in school dropout and graduation rates.

AISD already has a secondary school for young women–the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders–and the district has explored other ideas during the past year for offering single-sex education, from single-sex classes within a co-ed school to entire schools for boys or girls only. 

Some research indicates that schools using best practices for gender-specific teaching may be more successful at teaching to the specific strengths of boys and girls. Other research indicates that single-sex education is ineffective and contributes to an increase of gender stereotypes.

School for Young Men

This preliminary AAFR involves exploring a college and career preparatory academy that develops a community of leadership- and character-centered young men.  The school would open at the start of the 2013-14 school year and would serve young men in grades 6-12 by 2017-18. The Moody Foundation has approved $4.6 million in funding for such a project.

A 24-member planning team, divided evenly between AISD staff members and parents/community members, has led the development process.  Five scenarios for this proposal are being reviewed and discussed. These scenarios fall generally into two categories:

  1. Scenarios 1-4, which would involve the use of an existing AISD school that is currently under-enrolled and has additional space. The School for Young Men would co-locate in the building, and in future years the school would either move to another facility or the existing school at that facility would be phased out; and
  2. Scenario 5, which would renovate and remodel an existing AISD facility that is not currently serving as a traditional school building.

Garcia and Pearce Middle School Program Design, District 1

The proposals under this preliminary AAFR are specifically designed to address the achievement gap, high dropout rates and graduation concerns at Garcia and Pearce middle schools. These two schools have been rated academically unacceptable three out of the past four years (2008, 2009 and 2011). 

The proposal to explore the idea of single-sex middle schools at Garcia and Pearce began last year and has progressed through the work of a planning team composed of district staff members, parents and community members. Based on board guidance and input from community discussions, the district aims to implement program enhancements for Pearce and Garcia middle schools that focus on college and career preparedness in a culture that develops leadership and service skills.

Three scenarios for this proposal are being reviewed and discussed:

  1. Create two, single-sex middle schools (grades 6-8) in a combined attendance area for Garcia and Pearce middle schools. Students in these attendance areas who chose not to attend one of the single-sex middle schools would be assigned to Dobie, Martin, Lamar or Webb middle schools.
  2. Create another program design that would support single-sex education at one or both campuses. For example, one single-sex middle school (grades 6-8) could be created in a combined attendance area for Garcia and Pearce middle schools, or one of the schools could have co-ed classes similar to the current design for Webb Middle School.
  3. Continue and enhance existing co-ed programs at Garcia and Pearce middle schools. This scenario would not involve board action.

Any new program design for Garcia and Pearce Middle Schools would be implemented in 2014-15.

For both preliminary AAFRs, the board discussed general budget estimates for operations, transportation and facilities. The administration will provide more specific estimates once the scenarios have been more fully developed.

The board is scheduled to take action on all potential AAFRs at the Dec. 17 Regular Board Meeting.