AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District has created a brand new department and hired a high-ranking Texas Education Agency official to lead a team tasked with remedying years of declining enrollment.
Alejandro Delgado, the former Deputy Chief of Staff for TEA Commissioner Mike Morath, will oversee enrollment efforts, set direction for recapturing previously departed families, engage with community stakeholders and deliver resources to campuses wishing to extend their reach within the community.
Delgado faces an uphill battle as the district has experienced years of declining enrollment. Aside from a projected slight post-pandemic enrollment bump of approximately 2,000 students for the 2021-22 school year, the district forecasts another several years of continuous decline.
However, Delgado said he is bringing with him a “growth mindset,” meaning he isn’t relying on the projections to dictate his performance.
“AISD has lost several thousand students to charter schools, neighboring districts or to moving due to affordability,” Delgado said. “But that doesn’t have to be our destiny. In fact, we can increase tremendously if we are doing a better job of telling our story, doing a better job of coordinating internally and do a better job of supporting campuses across the city.”
Delgado is a local. He graduated from Bowie High School and has two children in elementary schools within AISD. He participated in Operation Reconnect, where volunteers walked block-to-block, talking with families and pushing them to rejoin AISD.
With more than 10 years educational experience, he has served as a high school teacher, a charter school principal and an administrative executive at the TEA. He said this allowed him to monitor some of the most successful districts across the state to find out what they were doing to attract families.
“Given my networks and connections and just visibility across the state, I am excited to bring some of those best practices to Austin,” Delgado said. “This is my opportunity to support everything that is good that is going on here in Austin ISD and in our broader community. I can’t think of any more important work.”
KXAN Education Reporter Alex Caprariello asked Delgado what he wants to accomplish before the first day of the fall semester. He said his first order of business is to hone in on Pre-K and kindergarten families to make sure those numbers go up.
He also plans to work with the curriculum team to ensure lessons are rigorous, comparable to any competing private or charter schools. He also wants to establish a more consistent form of community conversations all summer long.