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October 24, 2011 Meeting

Trustees Adopt Resolution to Participate in School Finance Litigation

The AISD Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution to officially join a lawsuit on school finance to be filed by Thompson & Horton LLP. Although there are three other lawsuits that have or will be filed to protest the Texas school finance system, the district feels that the claims made by Thompson & Horton are most closely aligned with the goals and priorities of AISD.

Many districts across the state have been discussing litigation as a means to work toward overall structural improvements to the Texas system of school finance. Thompson & Horton is representing a coalition of districts focusing on three main issues:

  • Increased student enrollment and more stringent standards placed on district lead to inadequate state funding;
  • Because districts don't have "meaningful discretion" over their own tax rates, this creates a de facto statewide property tax; and
  • Current per-student funding is an arbitrary and inefficient system.

The current system of school finance in Texas fails to address population growth or meet the more rigorous standards required by the State.

The district will launch a website to keep AISD staff and the community up to date on this topic. For more information, please visit www.austinisd.org.

Preliminary Scenarios for Annual Facilities Recommendations (AFRs) Introduced

Superintendent Meria Carstarphen presented preliminary scenarios for the development of the Annual Facilities Recommendations as part of the Facility Master Plan (FMP) process. This is one of numerous discussions on this topic that the Board has and will continue to have leading up to Board action, which is scheduled for the December 12 Regular Board Meeting.

The preliminary scenarios presented include addressing overcrowding in North Central Austin schools; implementing two-way dual language immersion programs; establish a new program design for the Alternative Learning Center and ACES; and create an in-district charter program focused on college readiness and science, technology, engineering and math. Additional scenarios with a possible 2012-13 implementation after additional vetting include providing a graduation pathway education charter program and establish two single-gender middle schools, one for males and one for females.

Additionally, to ensure communities and staff fully understand the potential impact of the preliminary scenarios on their schools and to ensure that stakeholders are involved in the process, the administration has held various meetings and will continue to meet with those communities and schools that are most likely to be affected by the proposed Annual Facilities Recommendations. These meetings are structured to allow participants to receive the information, as well as to offer alternative recommendations.
The public will have an opportunity to provide input during two scheduled public hearings on the Facility Master Plan. The first public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Board Auditorium on Tuesday, October 25. The second public hearing is scheduled for Monday, November 28 at a location to be determined.

For additional information about the Facility Master Plan and opportunities for community engagement, please visit www.austinisd.org/fmp.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees will be on Monday, November 21, 2011. To review complete board agendas please visit http://archive.austinisd.org/inside/board/. Learn more about AISD at www.austinisd.org.

This update is provided to staff and the community by the Department of Public Relations and Multicultural Outreach. For more information, contact us at (512) 414-2414.