If the AISD Board Won't Come to the Mountain

Eastside supporters offer to meet trustees

The Eastside Memorial community wants to talk: Does the AISD board want to listen?
The Eastside Memorial community wants to talk: Does the AISD board want to listen? (Photo by John Anderson)

The Austin Independent School District board of trustees has not exactly been winning friends with the East Austin community over Eastside Memorial (with some trustees more interested in chastising residents than listening to them.) But the Eastside supporters are offering and asking for one last chance to talk about the plans for their vertical team.

Representatives of the Eastside Memorial Vertical Team have just sent this email to the board, requesting a meeting before Monday's vote on handing their schools over to IDEA Public Schools.

As a representative of the Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus Vertical Team, we would like to meet with you, the school board members, in order to voice our opposition to AISD's in-district charter school proposal. Of course, multiple concerns and questions arise on a daily basis. This meeting would help ensure that they are being relayed to you, we can listen to each other, and have dialogue in order to respond to statements that have been made, especially those in favor of IDEA. Due to a possible large turnout, we would agree to our own speakers who would help facilitate the discussion, as well as the crowd. In summary, this is an opportunity for all members, whether for or against this proposal, to meet with folks from all over the EMHS Vertical Team, and bring the school district and community closer together.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, our only collective availability is Monday, December 19th, 3:30pm, at the AISD Carruth Center Courtyard (Rain Location TBD). We know that most of you are unavailable at that time, but also understand that there are always possibilities. Eastside Memorial students have organized a march from Eastside, at 1:30pm (since school is on a half-day finals schedule) to the #4 bus (since they were unable to get approval to use AISD buses), and ultimately, the Carruth Center. The great amount of students will rely on Capitol Metro to get them there Monday, and we will help them study for Tuesday's finals after we arrive. We appreciate all your efforts and respect your time. Thank You.

Truth be told, there are still huge matters that have gone without discussion, and it's still unclear why so many members of the board seem to be sticking their fingers in their ears about them.

Here's what we have yet to hear discussed:

– The creation of a two-tier teacher system (AISD employees will be regular staff, but IDEA's hires will be at-will: So much for employee relations.)

– The reality of IDEA's track record

– The role of the Gates Foundation in this deal

And what about the Texas High School Project? IDEA is part of their "state portfolio", and the project's executive director, former AISD trustee John Fitzpatrick is writing op-eds in favor of the deal. Both the project and Gates have been in the weeds on this since the June 20 meeting at which the board launched negotiations with IDEA (on the consent agenda, natch.)

– Why AISD is letting IDEA set the timeline for their decisions?

– How much this really costs the district? (According to the current contract, IDEA gets the average daily allowance for the students, but the district is still on the hook for electives, transport, catering provision etc etc etc. IDEA will be responsible for day-to-day maintenance, but AISD will cover repairs, plus AISD will pay to retrofit Allan Elementary and Eastside Memorial High to meet IDEA's specifications.)

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Austin Independent School District, AISD, IDEA Public Schools, Eastside Memorial

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