AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN is learning more about the Austin Independent School District’s first-ever proposed $2 million “equity allotment” for campuses in the district with a special focus on Title I schools with a high percentage of economically-disadvantaged students.
According to the latest data from AISD, the district has 66 of these campuses out of its 125 schools.
AISD Chief Financial Officer Eduardo Ramos told KXAN if approved, schools across the district would receive part of the $2 million investment.
He said the money would go solely to activities outside the classroom, like afterschool programs, academic clubs, sports and organizations. The goal is to increase participation among students in schools where parents aren’t always able to pay out-of-pocket for activities.
Here’s a breakdown of what Title I schools could get under this allotment, on average, according to the district:
- High schools: $30,000 – $100,000
- Middle schools: $20,000 – $50,000
- Elementary schools: $25,000 – $35,000
Oak Springs Elementary is one of the district’s Title I schools. The principal told KXAN almost 100% of families are deemed economically disadvantaged. The campus has one afterschool program that focuses on things like dance and art. Parents like Victoria Alvarez said the program is critical for a community with limited child care options available.
Historically, the PTA helps pay for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. That’s not the reality at Oak Springs, because Alvarez said their PTA has a minimal budget, which can lead to equity concerns.
“We have to think outside of the box. What can we do, what kind of fundraisers can we have,” Alvarez explained.
This is why she and Principal Cynthia Jackson believe the allocations from the $2 million investment to Title I schools will help expand programming, experiences and access to things like coding, clubs and sports equipment.
“This would allow us the opportunity to give the students more field trips, this will also allow us to bring additional partners into the campus. It provides choice to them,” Jackson said. “How will our children ever know that they can become a dancer, if they aren’t exposed to dance? How will they learn about coding if they can’t ever experience it?”
This all comes as the district plans to cut $51.9 million, including 632 full-time employees, as part of its proposed budget. Last week, the district told KXAN a majority of these staff cuts were through attrition and eliminating vacancies throughout the year.
The school board will vote on the final budget, which includes the $2 million equity allotment, in June.
AISD is proposing a new master schedule that will offer teachers more planning periods and offer students more time for activities like physical education, music and art.
Making sure students get the education they need as well as keeping them involved in activities like PE, art and music is beneficial in their development and that is why AISD is working on a schedule that makes that all happen.
In the new proposed master schedule, teachers would receive two additional 45-minute planning periods each week for planning. Kindergarten through fifth graders would still have 45 minutes of daily PE with a potential flex day and a minimum of 180 minutes of music and art for students in a three-week period.
“What we heard from the principals tonight is that they have figured out a way to give our kids what they need and that means giving teachers embedded planning time during the day so they can work together and be better prepared to teach our kiddos who really need the help to catch up right now,” said Jason Stanford with AISD.