Austin ISD news: District preparing for all in-person learning this fall; PTAs will no longer fund school staff positions and more

A sign at Pecan Springs Elementary School in East Austin asks all visitors to wear a mask. Texas school districts, including Austin ISD, will not have the option to offer virtual education to families who choose it after a bill that would have allowed distance learning in the fall to pass. not reached the governor’s office. (Jack Flagler / Community Impact Journal)

A bill that would have allowed Texas public schools to offer virtual learning options to families who chose them failed to make it to the governor’s office, which means school districts in the State, including Austin ISD, are preparing to offer only in-person instruction this fall.

House Bill 1468, introduced by State Representative Keith Bell, R-Forney, rolled out of the Texas House in late April and was due to be voted on in the Texas Senate on May 30 before the end of the session. .

However, according to the Texas American Federation of Teachers, the bill became “collateral damage” when House Democrats chose to break the quorum to block Senate Bill 7, which succeeded in preventing the adoption of the controversial bill.

Gov. Greg Abbott has said he will call a special session to give lawmakers the opportunity to bring the election bill and “other priority items” to his office.

Schools were able to remain fully funded in the 2020-21 school year while providing virtual learning options thanks to a waiver from the Texas Education Agency. This waiver expires at the end of the year, and without an extension from TEA Commissioner Mike Morath or action by the Texas Legislature, public schools will no longer have the option of virtual schooling starting in the fall.

Eddie Villa, a spokesperson for AISD, said the district is still evaluating its options alongside neighboring school districts to see if a renewal of the TEA waiver might become an option. In the meantime, Villa said, AISD plans to welcome families to campus in person this fall.

PTAs will no longer be able to fund staff positions in Austin schools

In the 2020-21 school year, parents’ associations funded 31 full-time and part-time positions in elementary schools in the district, including library clerks, tutors and a Spanish teacher. .

This practice will end, district officials said, in a decision that AISD will put all of its schools on an equal footing.

“We are a public institution. We exist to serve the public. As soon as we become catalysts of inequity, we cease to be a public institution and become private,” Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said in a post on the website from AISD on May 21.

Gullett Elementary School PTA was one of the groups that called on AISD to delay the decision, arguing that its financial goals are carefully scrutinized over an extended period of time to meet the unmet needs of the campus.

“By eliminating the positions funded by the PTA, we would completely ignore the intention of the donors of our parents and the community,” the PTA wrote.

AISD will pay for positions in five elementary schools that were previously funded by ATP for the upcoming school year. According to the announcement, one of the positions that will transfer funding from the PTA to the district is that of technology coordinator in the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab.

Leslie Stephens, head of human capital at AISD, said anyone who previously worked in a part-time or ATP-funded hospitality position will be able to apply for another vacant position and be included in the pool. priority of the district.

Austin ISD community members will walk around Dove Springs

On June 26, staff, teachers and volunteers will be door-to-door in the Dove Springs area of ​​southeast Austin to educate families about district programs and educate them. bring back to AISD schools. This is the second event this spring. The first took place in April in northeast Austin, and another is scheduled for July 24 around Eastside Early College High School.

The event was originally scheduled to take place on June 5 before being postponed due to the rain. Volunteers will meet at Mendez Middle School at 9 a.m. Schools the event will focus on around Dove Springs include Mendez as well as elementary schools in Houston, Langford, Perez, Palm, Rodriguez, Uphaus and Widen.

Data shows that over 87% of the more than 16,000 students who left AISD in 2019-2020 left to attend a charter school.

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