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Taxes for People or Taxes for Buildings
AISD trustees ask long term funding priority question
DAILY News  March 29, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...Education Austin co-president Ken Zarifis was a little more measured in his tone, but equally critical of the district's failure to take charge of its own financial destiny. While "the lion’s share of responsibility" for the school funding crash lies with the capitol, he said, the board needs to have "faith in our community that they will support education, to save kids and save our teachers, even if the legislature will not."..."

The Sunday Survey: 8/22/10
Who said teachers need a living wage?
DAILY News  August 22, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...The business community is complaining that the proposal (which would still leave the rate at a fraction of what it was between 2000 and 2006) should wait for another day. Everyone else seems to have remembered that, out of the top 50 districts, AISD's teachers are the 49th worst paid (even under the district's own measurements, which include health benefits, they're seventh out of the top ten, and that doesn't factor in Austin's high cost of living.)..."

Texas Needs an Income Tax
Postmarks  May 11, 2004
"...Webster's Dictionary defines "great" as "much higher in some quality or degree" and "much above the ordinary or average." Does Texas measure up to those standards? We can be proud of its glorious history, its ranching and agriculture that fed and continue to feed the nation, widespread manufacturing, booming high tech, and three flagship universities. On the other hand negative aspects damage the image of greatness: a state government that meets only 38% of its constitutional obligation to fund public education, leaving the remainder to be funded by school districts and counties through increasingly higher property taxes. Furthermore, the state depends on a regressive sales tax to provide 50% of its entire revenue. Finally, in social services and the salaries of employees funded by tax dollars, we find Texas' standing in comparison to the other states to be embarrassingly low: 50th in the percentage of those without health care; 49th as the most desirable state in which to raise children, among the 10 worst in all factors relating to teenage pregnancy; 38th in high school dropout rate; 39th in funding per pupil in higher education; 38th in public school teachers' pay; 45th in funding for public libraries; and 45th in nursing home funding. No Texan can be proud of these standings..."

West Lake Hills Under Siege
Urbane Mud-Slinging
News Story  September 18, 1998, by Wesley Oliver
"...EISD is approaching the constitutional cap on M&O tax. The majority of the M&O budget (near 80%) goes to pay teachers' salaries..."

'Chronicle' Endorsements
Nov. 4 General Election
News Story  October 17, 2008
"...Even in the face of dire economic times and after the Austin Independent School District bond election in May, the real no-brainer on this ballot is the 3.9-cent property-tax raise for education funding. Tying the teachers' pay raise to the tax increase may seem like extortion, and Education Austin made a sensible argument that the district should have asked for the maximum 13 cents allowed by the state, saving it from having to come back, cap in hand, next time it has any additional expenditure..."

Back to School
From Dallas to the Border, Texas shortchanges its children and its future
News Column  August 20, 2004, by Michael King
"...Assistant Attorney General William Deane was unmoved. The fact that Forgione can choose to move funds from one program to another, Deane argued, proves that the districts exercise constitutionally mandated "meaningful discretion." And if they want to pay teachers more than minimum wage, he pointed out, that's their choice.Money Changes Everything It was useful to keep this testimony in mind while considering the upcoming AISD bond election, by which the district hopes to raise in excess of $500 million through a tax rate increase of 4.65 cents, $6 a month for the average homeowner..."

AISD Salaries Up for Debate
With cost of living going up, teachers need a raise
News Story  May 5, 2016, by Richard Whittaker
"...And although $133 million of that is going straight to the state under recapture (see "AISD Proposes a Budget," April 29), the district is considering implementing higher minimum hourly wages as well as an across-the-board pay raise. Yet as the cost of living goes up in Austin, there is concern that the proposed increases won't offset inflation, nor keep teachers in the district...."

We Get What We Want
Columns  February 27, 1998
"...On February 20, 1998, the teachers of Austin I.S.D. participated in the district's "Share the Excitement" teacher conference..."

Budget Blackboard
Write 100 Times: AISD Needs More Money
News Story  June 20, 1997, by Roseana Auten
"...Laptops for teachers and computer networks are fine, Price argues, but a video server system is very high-maintenance and, given how quickly technology becomes obsolete, the system could commit AISD to ongoing expenses that may soon seem imprudent. He noted that the district seems to have plenty of money to spend on hardware and software vendors, but not for things parents clamor for, such as more art, music, and P.E..."

AISD: Low-Budget Wrassling Resumes
Budgeting for public education always involves struggles between competing needs, but these days the competition is particularly fierce
News Story  July 15, 2005, by Rachel Proctor May
"...The Austin ISD community has barely begun debating the district's proposed $755 million budget, and already district officials and the teachers union are having a hard time playing nice. Budgeting for public education always involves struggles between competing needs, but these days the competition less resembles a jolly afternoon among the croquet wickets than it does, say, a rugby match in a thunderstorm, perhaps while being stalked by wild dogs...."

Sub Mission
There's No Substitute for a Teacher - Just Ask AISD
News Story  May 29, 1998, by Lisa Tozzi
"...Substitute teacher Amy Batiz photograph by John Anderson When it comes to getting respect, somewhere near the bottom of the list (perhaps after Rodney Dangerfield) are substitute teachers - those temporary souls whom students perceive as pushovers, "fake teachers" who don't know the rules of the game. With no respect, much less pay incentive, it's no wonder so many subs are dropping out of the temp pool and marketing their flex time somewhere else..."

Neighborhoods, Schools, and Budgets
Austin ISD's looming financial crisis is a statewide story
News Story  February 11, 2011, by Richard Whittaker
"...In January, he got the first draft of his staffing numbers: His optimistic prediction was for three teacher positions gone, but the district warned him it could be as many as eight. He said: "Typically, we lose five to 10 teachers and staff out of 100 every summer due to attrition..."

Naked City
News Story  May 18, 2007
"...• The AISD board of trustees is considering a Strategic Compensation Initiative, which would provide incentive pay for teachers at struggling schools. The plan would pay novice teachers more to go to high-needs schools and even more to stay for more than three years, pay experienced teachers more to mentor other teachers, reward principals and teachers for improving TAKS scores, and provide teachers with professional development training..."

AISD Budget
District may have resources to reverse cuts if it can muster the courage to raise taxes
News Story  June 30, 2006, by Michael May
"...The district's rank-and-file employees will be the main beneficiaries of the windfall. Last year, the district was only able to provide a one-time stipend of $1,000 to teachers, counselors, and librarians who completed the school year..."

An Education Only a Boss Could Love
Public schools lurch a little closer to privatization with HB 2
News Column  February 11, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...The House education bill introduced last week drew instant criticism from teachers unions, tempered praise from legislative leaders, cautious restraint from school administrators, and ... heads up, everybody ....."

On Consent: AISD Employees See Increased Wages
A 1.5% increase will go to district employees
News Story  May 25, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...But that's just the baseline salary. Zarifis is hoping many teachers see a much bigger bump under the Professional Pathways for Teachers, a new system designed to encourage professional development..."

Balancing the Books After Years of Neglecting Schools
The Texas Legislature wants to fix school finance, but how?
News Story  April 6, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...Critics note how the $9,000 won't be enough for poor kids to pay for private school, but will help subsidize such educations for wealthier families. The proposal is opposed by a broad coalition of education groups, including teachers' unions Texas AFT and the Texas State Teachers Association, Texas PTA, and the Texas Association of School Boards..."

Out of Pocket
Teachers forced to pay for supplies after flood
News Story  December 10, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...Imagine turning up at work, and your boss says you have to pay for your own office supplies because the investors won't pay for pens and paper. That's what Texas teachers go through every year under the state's broken school finance system..."

Here Today, There Tomorrow
Austin ISD Schools grapple with high student turnover – and all its consequences
News Story  March 11, 2005, by Rachel Proctor May
"...On a clear, fall Friday afternoon, a group of teachers from Ridgetop Elementary school, at 51st Street just off Airport, pile into principal Joaquin Gloria's sparkling white SUV and ride across Airport Boulevard to a trio of apartment complexes on Harmon Avenue, a couple of blocks away. Armed with clipboard lists of addresses, they break into groups of three and, with the muted rumble of nearby I-35 as background music, begin knocking on doors..."

Two Schools of Thought
The upcoming ACC and AISD elections share a ballot but address different challenges
News Story  April 30, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...The Legislature, as it did to every state agency last year, cut community-college allocations by 7% (in midyear, doubling the effect) as well as cutting health benefits to part-time employees, exacerbating two previous years of budget shortfalls. Later, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accreditation agency for community colleges, took the college to task for improperly credentialed teachers and for what they described as too much direct trustee meddling in more properly administrative affairs..."

Readers weigh in on the criminality of musicians, the integrity of neighborhoods, and more.
Columns  July 6, 2001
"...Blackshear: The Teachers' Tale..."

AISD Notebook
News Story  June 28, 1996
"...In a move that may well astonish many, the AISD Board of Trustees on Monday approved the 1996-97 preliminary budget that will spend almost $12 million more on salaries, granting teachers a 5% pay raise, and putting into place a more equitable salary schedule to deliver it. The pay hike, one of several addenda to the proposed budget of $409 million, will be funded by tacking on at least another half cent to the new school tax rate and making a few hundred thousand dollars in program reductions..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  July 25, 2003
"...How safe am I going to be if I am sitting in a high school teachers' lounge without so much as a fingernail clipper when psychopathic students come in with guns and start shooting the place up like Columbine high? What good did "no guns" policies do then?..."

Robin Was Here
News Story  June 14, 2002, by Michael King
"...Forgione says he needs the increases if he's going to retain his top administrators, who would otherwise flee to smaller, wealthier districts. But his budget seems to ignore the fact that the district has also been hemorrhaging teachers for some time...."

Naked City
Mostly local scuttlebutt, with trips to Cuba and Denver
News Story  August 17, 2001, by Michael King
"...On May 30, the Statesman reported AISD that officials said they had already hired nearly half of the 800 teacher spots they needed to fill for the fall. But sources close to the district subsequently told the Chronicle that the district was closer to 1,400 (or more) teachers short..."

Changing Places
The new Pickle Elementary School is a crucible of the changing St. Johns neighborhood
News Story  February 7, 2003, by Michael May
"...The Alliance Schools are not a one-size-fits-all academic program, but a strategy for getting parents and teachers deeply involved in the school and the community. After trust has been established among parents and teachers, needs are identified and strategies developed to meet them..."

Accepting the Challenge
Meet the candidates for AISD Board of Trustees.
News Story  March 29, 2002, by Jordan Smith
"...The job demands an enormous amount of time, energy, and dedication -- all without the benefit of a paycheck. Even folks who have often crossed swords with the board -- like EA's Malfaro, who heads the city's largest teachers' organization, and the Rev..."

A World of Their Own
Growing Population
News Story  June 3, 1999, by Spike Gillespie
"...As an example of communication problems that sometimes crop up, this teacher offers, "Information sharing is an important part of working together. But at the same time, I've seen teachers who, upon being given reading materials by parents, feel insulted because it's their belief they are already doing the best possible work with children with autism..."

Louis Malfaro and 18 Years of AISD Politics
The teachers' union veteran looks back as he moves forward
News Story  September 3, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...On Aug. 23, Louis Malfaro addressed the Austin Independent School District board of trustees for the last time as president of teachers' union Education Austin..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  November 1, 2002
"...Smith voted against requiring HMOs to pay for emergency care at the nearest ER, rather than a distant HMO-approved hospital ... and against grants to states to hire more teachers to reduce class sizes..."

Barrientos Misrepresented
Columns  May 6, 1999
"...As for high schools, if as Califano said then or now de facto college prep schools, then class room schedules like Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, or three classes a week could mean some 16-, 17-, and 18-year-olds could work part-time to stay in high school, and where high school teachers are working two jobs to make ends meet, some teachers might like the same wages but fewer hours per week...."

Teaching Themselves
The filmmakers, cast, and crew of Chalk learned valuable lessons with little in the way of a plan or a budget
Screens Story  May 18, 2007, by Toddy Burton
"...Everyone's working 12 hours a day, six days a week, for no pay on a feature film written and directed by two guys who've never been on a professional film set before. Shot on a mini-DV camera for a budget of $10,000, Chalk is the brainchild of co-writers and former public high school teachers Mike Akel and Chris Mass..."

'The Perfect Storm': AISD Board Adds by Subtracting
The Austin ISD board of trustees passes its 2003-04 budget.
News Story  August 29, 2003, by Michael King
"...Despite expressions of dissatisfaction from the dais and strong criticism from teachers, the board signed off on the administration's recommendation of an overall pay increase averaging 1.2% ($410 annually per employee): 1.03% for teachers, 1.77% for classified staff, and .67% for administrators. In its last week of meetings, the board restored $1.68 million for the Account for Learning program to hire parent specialists at 56 targeted schools, bringing that allocation to $41,000 per campus..."

Man of the Hour
Superintendent Pat Forgione discusses his goals for AISD in a Q&A interview with reporter Kevin Fullerton.
News Story  October 29, 1999, by Kevin Fullerton
"...But as a school superintendent, Forgione is still relatively untested. Does he have realistic expectations about the power of public education? Can he really make kids want to stay in school? Will he free teachers and students from TAAS drill drudgery, instilling a "rich curriculum" that both inspires students and produces good test scores? Forgione says he can..."

On the Lege
Dumb and Dumber
News Column  March 11, 1999
"...Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, don't seem to think there's any problem. Shapiro, prompted by suggestions in the comptroller's latest Texas Performance Review, has filed legislation that would "solve" the problem of chronically low-performing schools, not by allocating more funds to the campuses to train teachers and reduce class size, but by firing their teachers and principal...."

A lot of belt tightening and creative thinking make getting by with low dollars possible for AISD
News Story  September 3, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...The biggest development is the rollout of the district's new technology initiative. Oropez said, "That's going to touch all 6,000 teachers in every single classroom, so we're making sure we have the money and resources to be able to support distributing the devices, and making sure our teachers have adequate training." In 2013, voters approved $81 million in bonds to better integrate technology into the learning experience..."

The TAKS Is Dead! Long Live the TAKS!
Students continue to cram for slow-to-expire high-stakes tests
News Story  June 29, 2007, by Michael May
"...The subject that poses the greatest difficulty for seniors is science – including biology, physics, chemistry, and ecology – and that leaves review teachers Alice Roberts and Katie Woodberry with a few weeks to teach a packed Travis High classroom of students how to pass a test that covers four years of curriculum. Woodberry, a loud, boisterous teacher with a sarcastic sense of humor, creates the sense that the test is a game that they can beat together..."

TAE Charter Faces Crisis of Dollars and Confidence
Teachers at the Texas Academy of Excellence charter school walk for nonpayment, and the school stumbles on
News Story  February 20, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...When teachers at the Texas Academy of Excellence were told their January checks would be late, teacher Jody Gay wasn't exactly surprised. The East Austin charter school has suffered financial problems since its founding in 1996, and it had become common knowledge that paychecks not immediately cashed might bounce..."

Cars the Issue, Not Parking
Columns  September 11, 1998
"...Teachers Need Mauro..."

Looking at the Lege After a Flaccid Special Session
Alpha males Abbott and Patrick can't get their red meat passed
News Story  August 17, 2017, by the News Staff
"...Nominally called to pass sunset legislation required to keep Texas' doctors licensed, the special soon became a battle over hyperconservative agenda points. Abbott added 19 more items to the call – attacks on local government, unions, teachers, abortion rights, and medical professionals; not to mention the reviled bathroom bill, or seemingly personal vendetta against tree preservation..."

When the Bough Breaks
In 1993, the Hyde Park Baptist Child Development Center hired a teacher who proved to be a little 'rough' with the children. Now the church is being sued for ignoring alleged child abuse.
News Story  November 17, 2006, by Emily Pyle
"...On the contrary, Turner would eventually discover that one of the center's teachers had a very short temper with her small charges, sometimes shoving them, pinning them against walls, or denying them food as punishment, according to witnesses testifying in a consequent lawsuit. What is much worse, the center's administrators stand accused of ignoring or tolerating the teacher's reportedly habitual mistreatment of small children, for months or even years after other staff had reported it..."

Letters at 3AM
According to a 'USA Today' survey, 30% of all American youth hope to have careers in the arts. Who's been lying to these children?
Columns  September 29, 2006, by Michael Ventura
"...Their livelihood is teaching, not poetry. If they're good teachers, they transmit their love of poetry..."

Naked City
Headlines and Happenings from Austin and Beyond
News Story  April 28, 2006
"...Quote of the Week "You can say one thing for the governor and legislative leadership – once they latch onto a bad idea, they stick with it." – Texas Federation of Teachers President Linda Bridges on the determination of Republican leaders to change the sources of school funding without increasing itHeadlines• Early voting begins Monday, May 1, in the city of Austin municipal elections, which include the mayoral race and three City Council seats, as well as seven city charter amendments and board of trustee seats for both AISD and Austin Community College. See Chronicle endorsements...."

Point Austin: Low Expectations
Not much reason to believe that the Lege will do right by Texas students
News Column  April 14, 2006, by Michael King
"...• Teachers: There is nothing in the current proposal that fulfills promises made to teachers – on health insurance, on pay raises, on resources – made and broken years ago, by many of the same legislators who now return to Austin to "reform" school finance. A tax plan that generates no additional new money for schools is not just a shell game, it's a lie – to our teachers, to our children, to our communities..."

On the Lege
No solution; another special session is coming
News Column  July 22, 2005, by Amy Smith
"...At this point, Democrats, teachers groups, and some Republicans would prefer neither, thank you. As finalized and distributed Tuesday, the compromise spending plan (HB 2) offers a small pay raise for teachers, adds about $2.4 billion to school funding, and caps the amount of money that wealthy school districts would send to property-poor districts..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  February 11, 2005
"...Well-Qualified Teachers..."

Charter School Earns an F
The Texas Academy of Excellence fails accounting (and ethics)
News Story  July 2, 2004, by Rachel Proctor May
"...Well, not quite "no" idea. The school's administrators were clearly paying rent on their facilities (until they stopped doing so and got sued by the former landlord), as well as writing paychecks for teachers (until they started bouncing), and delivering taxes to the IRS (except when they didn't)..."

AISD Candidates
Profiles of the contestants
News Story  April 30, 2004
"...Finally, he supports improving teacher compensation, though he is as daunted as the rest of the candidates as to how to make that work within budget realities. "It's tough because it's a fixed-revenue environment, but unhappy teachers don't make for an optimal learning environment."..."

Columns  July 19, 2002
"...For example, consider the role of parents and teachers in education. Are they the ones in control? Does a teacher have the ability to use their talent and training to their best? Is a teacher fairly compensated for this talent and training? Do parents have control over what their child is taught? Does a parent have a fair choice regarding who will teach their child?..."

Our readers talk back.
Columns  July 12, 2002
"...For example, consider the role of parents and teachers in education. Are they the ones in control? Does a teacher have the ability to use their talent and training to their best? Is a teacher fairly compensated for this talent and training? Do parents have control over what their child is taught? Does a parent have a fair choice regarding who will teach their child?..."

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