Archive for January, 2011

Make Your Voice Heard by the AISD Facility Master Plan Task Force

You can submit comments through their online questionnaire until January 17th here: http://www.snapsurveys.com/swh/surveylogin.asp?k=129485034382

Feel free to use the template language below as starting points, if it is helpful. The text in [brackets] are areas we ask that you personalize. Please add your own stories and feelings as well; they should hear your feelings about the impact AISD’s plans will have on you, your families and community.

Sample Language for Community Members:

I have been a part of the East Austin community for [    ] years and in that time have watched this community [insert personal story about your experience, what you have seen change over the years, what you want for your community.]

Because of this I ask that the AISD Facility Master Plan Task Force take the East Austin College Prep proposal to lease Eastside Memorial High School seriously.

I believe this proposal offers a way for AISD to save money in this hard economic time and gives our community what it needs – an option for quality education for our children. For too long our children, their education and their opportunities to succeed have been ignored.

As we look to the future we want partnerships and solutions that offer opportunities to our families. The East Austin College Prep option of leasing out a school that is underutilized and under-performing does just that. I ask that AISD lease Eastside Memorial High School, either its entirety or a portion of the building, to East Austin College Prep. They would take over related operational and facilities costs of running the school from AISD through a long-term, low-cost lease. East Austin College Prep would continue to offer the services it currently provides to the community, including a quality education, school-based health clinic, employment services, childcare services, cultural arts programs, afterschool programs and parental education.

This arrangement will enable two very significant things to happen:

1.     AISD could save significant funding annually by not having to operate this underutilized school. The cost savings could then be redirected to help AISD keep other campuses open and operating.

2.     It would offer our community, and our children, with the stable and consistent resource of a quality education that prepares them for successful futures – in particular to attend and succeed in college. This has been lacking in our community and our children deserve this.

Thank you for your consideration.
[Insert your Signature]

Sample Language for Parents:

I am a parent of [   ] children and we live in East Austin. We have been part of this community for [   ] years.  I believe that a good education is one of the most important things that I can provide to my children, but I cannot do it alone.

As AISD considers different approaches to addressing the budget shortfall I think it is important to consider all options, especially those that may avoid having to close a recognized or exemplary school.  The East Austin College Prep Academy has made a proposal that gives AISD the chance to reduce their current expenditures AND provide the East Austin community with access to quality education that prepares our children for success in college. This is the kind of education that the children of East Austin deserve and that can strengthen our community.

I am asking that you consider leasing Eastside Memorial High School, either in its entirety or a portion of the building, to East Austin College Prep. East Austin College Prep could expand the services it currently provides to the community including a quality education, school-based health clinic, employment services, childcare services, cultural arts programs, afterschool programs and parental education.   They would also take over related operational and facilities costs of running the school from AISD through a long-term, low-cost lease.

This arrangement will make two very significant things happen:

1)       AISD could save significant funding annually by not having to operate an underutilized school. The cost savings could then be redirected to help AISD keep other campuses open and operating.

2)       It would offer our community, and our children, with a stable and consistent quality education that prepares them for successful futures – in particular to attend and succeed in college. This has been lacking in our community and our children deserve this.

I ask that you give this proposal serious consideration.  I know that the current plan is talking about closing 9 schools and redistricting an additional 2. By leasing the Eastside Memorial campus to the East Austin College Prep Academy, the school district will be save funds that can be reinvested.

Thank you for your consideration.
[Insert your Signature]

Sample Language for Students:

I am in the [   ]th grade and I live in East Austin. I currently go to the East Austin College Prep Academy.  I would like you to consider supporting the proposal East Austin College Prep presented at the AISD Facility Master Plan Task Force meeting.

If AISD allows East Austin College Prep to lease Eastside Memorial High School, then they continue to provide me, my friends and other kids in East Austin with a school that is preparing us for success in college. I like it there – I get to learn about math and science, we talk about things that happen in our community and how we can change them.  All of us at the school know we are going to go to college. And we support each other with that goal.

I think you should let other kids in East Austin have the chance to attend a school that prepares us for college and our future opportunities. Give us space to continue our education and make this school available to all the kids in this community so they can succeed too.

Thank you,
[Insert your Signature]

January 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm

An Out of the Box Option Presented to AISD Master Plan Task Force

This week was a busy one for the Austin Independent School District (AISD) Facility Master Plan Task Force. They released options to counter a projected budget shortfall of $45 million for the coming 2011-2012 school year. They released these options Monday night in advance of two meetings during which community members were able to voice their thoughts about the proposed options. While some attendees recognized that the Task Force did not have an easy job, the overwhelming community response was opposition to their recommendations.

The options presented at the meeting were various plans that included the potential closure of nine schools throughout the city. Among the criteria the task force used for their recommendations was “education enhancement” in which a judgment of whether the educational needs of students were being met. However, each option proposes closing schools (eight elementary and one middle school) and all of the elementary schools have a state ranking of recognized or exemplary.

During the meeting, community members spoke of their concerns regarding how schools slated for closure were chosen. Some questioned why schools with exemplary state rankings or a rich history in the community were on the list; others asked the task force “why are your eyes on the east side” for closure? And most eloquently, one woman stated that a community’s schools are the heart of the community – and the currently proposed closure plans ignore that.

Near the end of the remarks, Janie Flores, an East Austin community member stepped forward with an alternative option for AISD’s budget challenges. As President of the East Austin College Prep Academy (EACPA) Parent Council, Ms. Flores presented a proposal in which EACPA would be allowed to lease Eastside Memorial High School from AISD. As she stated, this option would not only provide a quality education to students in East Austin, but could also divert existing funds to save other schools in danger of being closed.

In the end, when the meeting adjourned around 8:40pm, the task force had heard from others in support of this East Austin College Prep option and the impact it may have on the other schools.

If you want to encourage the task force and AISD to seriously consider alternatives to the recommendations, such as the East Austin College Prep option,  please:

·      send letters to the editors of the local papers – here are talking points that can help you write these letters.

·      submit comments to the AISD Facility Master Plan Task Force – here are templates to help you start your submission.

·      Other ideas and resources can be found at Save Austin Schools.

The important thing is that we do something. This is about our children and our communities.

– Narissa Johnson
Ext. Communications Manager

January 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm 1 comment

Make Your Voice Heard by the Austin Community about AISD’s Plans

Write Letters to the Editor:

Letters can be e-mailed to letters@statesman.com. Please include a full name, address, daytime and evening phone numbers. There is a 150 word maximum. Feel free to use any of the below points to build your letter, if you find that helpful.

  • I attended the AISD Facility Master Plan Task Force Meeting(s) this week to hear about the options the Task Force is presenting to the AISD School Board to help them solve their financial problems.
  • I am concerned about the AISD Facility Master Plan Task Force’s plans to help the AISD School Board to solve their budget problems.
  • I don’t think schools that are state ranked as recognized or exemplary schools should be shut down.
  • The current plans to shut down good schools hurts our community and our children.
  • The East Austin College Prep Academy has proposed that AISD allow them to lease Eastside Memorial High School so they can provide a great education to children in East Austin.
  • AISD can divert the money spent operating an underutilized and under-performing school to keep recognized and exemplary schools open.
  • Are we willing to think outside the box as a community? For the sake of our children and communities, I certainly encourage AISD to.
  • Take this proposal that East Austin College Prep lease Eastside Memorial High School seriously.

January 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm


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