Austin ISD committee to focus on equity and diversity

FILE - Classroom (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Classroom (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Independent School District leaders voted Monday to approve two changes that could help improve schools and deal with some major problems.

One could help spread resources out more fairly across the district and the other would help teachers evaluate their own work. In an 8-1 vote, Austin ISD leaders approved district self-assessments. They also voted to move forward and create a specialized committee to focus on equity and diversity at schools in the district.

It all comes down to money and whether all students, regardless of where they live, are getting the same opportunities. For months the board has been discussing these items. Some parents say it is not fair that some schools get more money than others. If approved, this specialized committee would look at resources and the budget for the district.

The other issue board members voted on is a self-assessment for teachers in the classroom. Some board members say the two issues go hand-in-hand because they both have to do with making sure students are getting the best education, no matter what school they attend.

Some worries it will cost taxpayers too much. Board trustee Paul Saldana says 86 percent the budget currently pays teacher salaries, leaving gaps for other programs across the district.

“I’m hoping part of the self-assessment is to showcase and be able to tell the story of all the good things happening in the district so potentially we can draw some of the students we’ve lost to come back to AISD,” said Saldana.

Stacey Smith is a parent and teacher.

“The level at which we are comfortable with funding our East Austin schools isn’t even close to what really needs to be happening based on what I’ve seen as an educator for 16 years in East Austin schools,” she said.

The district plans to implement the changes as soon as June.

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