Naked City

Silence on AISD budget

The Austin ISD board of trustees on Thursday held its first hearing for public comment on the district's proposed $731.5 million budget. And the public said: practically nothing.

Only five people addressed the board, four of them representatives of Education Austin, who praised the proposed budget for making teacher compensation a priority. The budget, which Superintendent Pat Forgione released last week, includes $18 million for a 4.2% pay raise and health insurance premiums for AISD teachers.

The lone expression of concern came from Alberto Gonzalez, who had served on an AISD subcommittee on campus environment and student discipline, and who urged the board to pay attention to the need for counselors. Specifically, he was concerned that AISD's alternative learning center, which serves troubled students from around the district, doesn't have a counselor. "I'd rather go without one soccer coach or tennis coach than have our schools not have enough counselors," he said.

The budget does include about $100,000 to add more counselors to the largest high schools, part of a suite of safety measures including additional security guards (about $500,000) and bus cameras ($70,000), on top of the $19 million for other security hardware that's been included in the $520 million bond package that will go before voters in September. The public will have several more opportunities to address the board before the superintendent offers a final proposal on Aug. 2, which the board will consider Aug. 23.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Austin ISD, AISD, Education Austin, Pat Forgione, Alberto Gonzalez, counselors, safety and security

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