Naked City

AISD's stand on principals

On Monday, the Austin ISD board of trustees voted to approve revised procedures for the district's principal selection process. AISD hires 15 to 20 new principals a year, and administrators and apparently some candidates had criticized the existing procedure as too cumbersome. Staff initially recommended a streamlined process with little public input, but the process approved by the board Monday was described as a "compromise" plan, with teachers and parents represented in the candidate interviews by the co-chairs of a school's Campus Advisory Council. Representatives of Austin Interfaith spoke to the board Monday night, supporting the compromise but asking for additional parental and community representation on the hiring committee and the submission of at least two candidates for review.

"It was never our intention to take parents out of the process," said human resources director Michael Houser as he presented the administration proposal.

The board did not amend the revised procedure before approving it, but some members raised pointed questions about true effectiveness of CAC representation of the larger campus communities. Trustees Cheryl Bradley and Robert Schneider were particularly skeptical about the consistency of CAC participation districtwide – Schneider suggested that without more effective supervision of CACs, the district may well be in violation of state law. Other trustees said that they were hearing from parents that parent-teacher associations would provide more independent parental representation. Superintendent Pat Forgione and Deputy Superintendent Darlene Westbrook responded that the administration has been aggressive in making sure CACs are functioning as intended, with active parental and community involvement. In moving to enact the revisions, John Fitzpatrick called the new process a "good balance" that should be tried for a year and adjusted as necessary.

At Monday's meeting, chief financial officer Larry Throm also presented the proposed budget assumptions and priorities for 2004-2005, to be reviewed by the board and adopted at a later meeting. Throm is expecting an essentially static budget, with no anticipated new state revenues (pending a spring special legislative session) and no radical drops in property-tax revenue. The board also officially voted to call the May 15 election, at which Fitzpatrick and trustees Rudy Montoya, Johna Edwards, and Ingrid Taylor will be returned or replaced. (The same ballot will include ACC board races and the vote on a Travis Co. health care financing district.) Candidate filing begins Monday, Feb. 16.

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Austin ISD, campus advisory council, Austin Interfaith, Michael Houser, Cheryl Bradley, Robert Schneider, Pat Forgione, Darlene Westbrook, John Fitzpatrick, Larry Throm

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