I recently saw a tweet highlighting actions taken by the Austin ISD Board of Trustees with an intent to create innovative schools from existing classrooms. The article from the Austin Statesman can be found by clicking here.
This type of forward thinking and, more importantly,action by the board is a shining example of how one district has chosen to address the myriad of challenges they face not just today but into the future. This discussion is not about school choice options although it clearly is about school choice, a board taking the steps to create excellent public education options for the students in Austin ISD.
So what are the challenges Austin ISD is facing and why are their initiatives so important? This is not about more and better buildings, proposals that bring to light the challenges many have made that the public sector is taking on too much debt (more about that in a later blog). This is about a more efficient utilization of existing buildings and classrooms, initiatives that address the challenges associated with declining enrollment in some schools, recapture as a Chapter 41 district, the presence of an increasing number of charter schools, and aging of current schools.
Without stealing the thunder of a very well written article, as a former school board trustee myself, I was impressed by the focus of the board on solving current challenges and looking to the future. Acknowledging that there are certain contributing factors such as a high cost of housing that they cannot control or impact, the trustees nevertheless are undertaking a longer term planning effort to address those elements that they can.The ultimate winners as a result of this forward thinking effort are the students. I applaud the Austin ISD Board of Trustees as they undertake renewed efforts to Make Education a Priority.