Public Notice: Turtles, Two-Steps, and Active "Shooters"
Just as City Council is taking a breather from its recent land use squabbles, our other sometimes fractious elected governing body, the Austin ISD Board of Trustees, has run headfirst into its own land use buzz saw in Monday's debate over school closures (for more background, see AISD Told to Pay More, Make Cuts Hurt Less).
To catch you up if you've missed a few meetings: The debate is no longer over whether there should be school closures, but rather how many and where, and how attendance boundaries can be remapped to achieve the best outcomes for all students – especially for the economically disadvantaged populations in East Austin that always seem to get the short end of the stick. Late in the evening (the discussion didn't start until 10pm), Trustee Yasmin Wagner expressed the dilemma the board and district are facing in as delicate and general terms as she could, but the gist was essentially this: If we all agree that we need to close schools due to declining enrollments, how do we reconcile that:
• We don't want the burden of campus closures and consolidations to fall disproportionately on low-income students; with the fact that
• Most of the underenrolled schools are clustered in East Austin and serve low-income communities?
There was no good answer evident, and trustees split 5-4 on their votes on the matter: Yes, when staff is proposing campus closures and redrawn attendance zones, they should take into consideration the number of economically disadvantaged kids being impacted; but no, they should not necessarily rule out options that do disproportionately impact those kids.
It was not a happy time on the dais: Trustee LaTisha Anderson vowed that "I'm going to fight tooth and nail to prevent" school closings in her District 1. And Jayme Mathias warned that "if this [amendment] fails, let's talk to administration [about striking] the word 'equity' from our mission statement." (That amendment failed 5-4, but as of now, the word "equity" remains in the "school change" project's mission statement.) For now, the board seems to have painted itself into a tight corner, with diametrically opposed imperatives and a faint hope that district mappers will be able to warp space in such a way as to satisfy them both. We'll see the first results at the next meeting, June 17.
Two Steps Away From the Two-Step: Party with Capital Metro CEO Randy Clarke and Broken Spoke owner James White as CapMet cuts the ribbon on the new Broken Spoke MetroRapid Station, bringing the high-frequency 803 (and the future Orange Line; see Project Connect's Blue Line to Connect ABIA to Downtown) service directly to the iconic Austin dance hall, starting 4pm today, Thu., May 23.
"Drink Beer. Save Turtles" Today, May 23, is World Turtle Day, to "bring attention to, and increase knowledge of and respect for, turtles and tortoises, and encourage human action to help them survive and thrive." County Line on the Lake, which sits right on Bull Creek at 5204 FM 2222, is hosting two days of research by the Turtle Survival Alliance, and today, until 5:30pm, the public is invited to watch and talk to the 20-plus volunteers and divers at work tagging and examining Texas river cooters, Texas map turtles, Guadalupe softshells, red-eared sliders, eastern musk turtles, and eastern snapping turtles. And until 8pm, buy a Hops & Grain River Beer in a souvenir pint glass, and proceeds will go to the Survival Alliance.
The state's annual Sales Tax Holiday for water- and energy-efficient products is this weekend, Sat.-Mon., May 25-27. Save that 8.5% (plus more on your utility bill and in clean air and water) when you buy anything from compact fluorescent lightbulbs to major appliances and air conditioning systems. Details on the comptroller's Energy Star and WaterSense sites.
Form:Function, the annual celebration and benefit for the Austin Foundation for Architecture, this year honors Sinclair Black, FAIA, and the Waller Creek Conservancy, "whose dedication to the built and natural environment – particularly in the areas of public placemaking and urban design – have transformed Austin's downtown, making an enduring mark on our city that will positively impact residents and visitors for years to come." It's Thu., May 30, 6-9pm at Fareground, with live music and food and drink from various of the eateries there. Tickets are $125 at www.austinfa.org. Creative cocktail attire suggested.
HAAM's Corporate Battle of the Bands is Friday, May 31, at ACL Live at the Moody Theater – bands from H-E-B, Netspend, Cirrus Logic, C3 Presents, Epicor, Seton, and Wenzel Spine compete to entertain you, and raise money for the great work that the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians does in our community. Admission is free, but every dollar donated not only benefits HAAM, but counts as a vote for your favorite band to win the Fan Favorite award; see www.myhaam.org for more info.
Active shooters at a North Austin Elementary! The Scottie Shooters – 47 fourth- and fifth-graders who make up the Highland Park Elementary School archery team – recently placed fourth in the nation out of 190 teams at the National Archery in the Schools Program tournament in Kentucky. Go Scotties!