All Key and No Lock

No deal on Eastside Memorial with Southwest Key

The Austin Independent School District has no current plans to discuss turning over Eastside Memorial High School to education nonprofit Southwest Key, according to Superintendent Meria Carstar­phen, and doing so would take a major policy change. In February, Southwest Key offered to lease the campus from AISD for "$1 a year for 99 years," with plans to run it as a combined high school and community center. During the March 31 community conversation about the 2011 budget at Bowie High School, Carstarphen reiterated the district's commitment to keep a high school in the Govalle-Johnston Terrace neighborhood. She noted that any proposal would also have to be thoroughly vetted as part of facilities planning. Addressing the Southwest Key plan, she said, "I have to tell everyone that has submitted that proposal, it does not align with board policy." Southwest Key has discussed using Eastside Memorial as part of its East Austin College Prep academy since 2007, back when the school was still Johnston High, but the group has stepped up its rhetoric during the current budget crunch. They say the lease would save the district around $8 million a year in operating costs, but those calculations don't include any of the costs of educating displaced Eastside Memorial students.

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