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'Are We Having Fun Yet?'

Superintendent Carstarphen rolls out new interactive timeline

By Richard Whittaker, 9:31PM, Mon. Jun. 20, 2011

AISD boardroom, mid-meeting: Is there anybody out there?
AISD boardroom, mid-meeting: Is there anybody out there?
Photo by Richard Whittaker

"Fun." That was the word that Superintendent Meria Carstarphen just used to describe the End of Year Report timeline, an interactive district diary that she said shows "a lot of the great highlights of what's being done in Austin ISD to support the whole child."

At the moment, it's impossible to tell what the actual full timeline includes (so far, no-one of the news desk in the AISD board room can get it to work) but what we have so far is what Carstarphen laid out in her presentation to the board. Apparently, this was the best year ever. Everyone won at every sport, and grades were marvelous and it was prizes galore.

So, no mention of the facility master plan debacle. Or the 1,153 AISD employees that are being laid off. Or the end of free all-day pre-K. Not everything that has gone wrong in the district is the district's fault. But it's a little hard not to raise an eyebrow at the revisionist history at play.

What may be a little more worrying is that there were virtually no community members present tonight (so much for the legendary Austin community involvement.) What they missed was the first hints from Carstarphen that two middle schools heading for Academically Unacceptable rating this year may end up being considered for conversion to single-sex schools. She noted that Pearce and Garcia will be undergoing the change to the early college prep model, and that both schools will have incoming classes held back (sixth for Garcia, sixth and seventh for Garcia.) However, she then discussed, briefly and obliquely, that they could be used for a boys' academy and a previously undiscussed second girls' school.

The absent community also missed the board's decision (on the consent agenda, no less) to instruct the administration to start talks with IDEA Public Schools on developing an in-district charter school. This is not a change in policy, but the discussion of a contractor on something as radical as an in-district charter. Wonder whether that will turn up on that timeline.

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