News from Texas and Austin ISD
Abbott approves state funding for virtual learning
AISD total student body
Black student body
The graph shows the percentage students who received out-of- school suspension in the district in 2019-20.
Hispanic student body
White student body
COURTESY AUSTIN ISD
HIGHLIGHTS AUSTIN ISD As Afghans who worked for the U.S. government ee unsafe conditions under Taliban rule in their homeland, Austin ISD welcomed their children to the district in August and September. The rst refugees coming to Austin hold special immigrant visas designated for people who worked for the U.S. and who have undergone security background checks and health screenings, according to nonprot Refugee Services of Texas. Salimah Shamsuddin, AISD’s refugee coordinator, said her oce helps parents with registration and orientations. Every school oers English as a second language classes. AUSTIN ISD As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to surge, Austin ISD reported 658 student cases of COVID-19 during the rst full month of school, amounting to less than 1% of the student population. Austin Public Health praised the district for its mask mandate, which it said is helping to reduce spread and manage cases. AISD has seen less than half as many cases per 100 students as neighboring districts, according to AISD and other districts’ data. The rst day of school was Aug. 17.
BY JISHNU NAIR
TEXAS Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Sept. 9 to expand remote learning possibilities during the pandemic for independent school districts and open- enrollment charter schools. The law allows school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to set up virtual learning while keeping state funding, according to John Theis, a political science professor at Lone Star College-Kingwood. The state previously required mandatory in-person enrollment to grant funds. Theis described the bill as a “trial run” for virtual learning, noting it encourages virtual learning until 2023, when a future legislative session can observe how districts implemented their programs.
SOURCE: TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCYCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
To reduce racial disparity, newAustin ISD code of conduct will remove long-termsuspensions
BY MAGGIE QUINLAN
-school suspensions and discipline placements from 19% to a percentage in line with the district’s Black student population of roughly 7%, according to the 2021-22 District Strategic Action Plan. The district found that during the 2019-2020 school year, Black students were about ve times more likely than white students to receive disciplinary action, per the district. The 2021-22 Student Code of Conduct updates include removing long-term suspensions and reducing both suspensions in and out of school from three to two days.
AUSTIN ISD As part of the Austin school district’s eort to reduce racial disparities in student discipline, Austin ISD’s new student code of conduct will remove long- term suspensions. Per the handbook, a student can be suspended for mandatory reasons— such as misdemeanor oenses—or repeated violations of the student code, such as disrupting classes. One of the district’s goals for the next ve years is to decrease the percentage of Black students experiencing in- and out-of
Newmiddle school breaks ground
BY DARCY SPRAGUE
AUSTIN ISD Construction will begin on Austin ISD’s new Mueller-area campus after the district reached a solution with the city regarding a real estate deal. The $60.96 million Northeast Middle School campus was funded as part of the 2017 bond program. The campus was set to open in 2022, before a snag in the real estate deal halted construction plans on the 10-acre lot in the northeast neighborhood. On Aug. 25, the district sent an email to area parents letting them know a solution had been reached.
Construction crews are working on the newmiddle school. (Darcy Sprague/Community Impact)
Austin ISD Meets Oct. 5 and 14
at 5:30 p.m.; Oct. 12 at 6 p.m. State of the District Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. www.austinisd.org Meetings are being held virtually and in person.
While the transaction is still being negotiated, a lease agreement with the city will allow the district to move forward, according to the email. This step allowed contractors to begin on-site work in early August. The update means the campus is slated to open in fall 2023.
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