AISD Notebook

Perhaps owing to the snakebit nature the fall school semester has assumed so far, a lengthy executive session bisected the regular meeting of the AISD Board of Trustees on Monday. Executive session is when the board discusses some of the potentially more litigious affairs of the school district -- among several other items, this week's hit parade included "discussion with legal counsel regarding the accident at Anderson High School on November 12, 1996" and "the temporary reassignment of the McCallum high school principal."

The first matter refers to an incredibly unfortunate and heartbreaking incident, in which a youth was struck in the head by a lawn aerator. Although the school district didn't purchase the machine, it apparently had been on the premises of Anderson for years and was used to help maintain the athletic fields. Anderson football coach Roy Kinnan was supervising the students when the accident occurred. The young man, Robert McCabe, was discharged in fair condition from Brackenridge on Monday to Health South, a rehabilitation hospital.

The second matter, the abrupt, Nov. 8 reassignment to central administration of McCallum High School principal Shelly Pittman, drew several speakers to citizens' communications. AISD released no details as to why he was "temporarily" removed from the campus. But it's clear that someone, somewhere, complained about him, so out he went. Two students, a McCallum teacher, and a parent all defended Pittman, who has a super-sweet-guy reputation and had only been at the school since August. Even in his brief reign, the speakers declared, Pittman had restored discipline and reduced tardies at the campus. On Tuesday, the board just as abruptly announced Pittman's reinstatement, effective Dec. 2.

McCallum, one of AISD's older high schools, is located in North Central Austin and tends to be "underenrolled" -- but that situation is expected to change over the next several years at all AISD high schools. So it's never too early to try to stop the erection of a Jim Bob Moffett High School in Southwest Austin. Almost a dozen citizens, most of whom live in Southeast Austin, also appeared at citizens' communications to voice concerns about where a new high school will be built.

You may recall that the $369 million bond issue, which passed in April, was advanced as a way to relieve campuses that are currently overcrowded. But many mistrust that notion and believe that bond funds will also be used to accommodate development in Southwest Austin, over the environmentally sensitive Edwards Aquifer. What's more, they say, South Central and Southeast Austin are long overdue for a new secondary school. "Let's get the high school where the real people are, not where the proposed people are," said Betty Edgemond, a retired AISD bus driver and South Austin resident.

Edgemond's and others' appearance at the meeting were likely precipitated, in part, by the fact that the board had been posted for action to approve Austin Realty Consultants (headed by former GOP Congressional candidate Jo Baylor) as the consultant for site acquisition for about 11 different projects under the bond program. As it turned out, however, this item was pulled from the agenda before the meeting.

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