AUSTIN (KXAN) — School is back in session for Austin Independent School District so KXAN sat down with AISD Interim Superintendent Matias Segura to talk about the upcoming year.
Segura was named the interim superintendent in December 2022 after the previous interim Anthony Mays left the district for a permanent role in Houston. Segura is a product of AISD schools.
Segura gave KXAN’s Nabil Remadna several updates on the district, including pay increases and teacher retention. Austin ISD increased its starting salary by 7%.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Q&A with Austin ISD interim superintendent
Remadna: “Recently [Austin ISD] increased salaries [and] compensation, but the state did not give the funding to the district that you were looking for, how did that impact AISD?”
Segura: “It is always a timing issue for us, you know our fiscal year ends June 30, so we have to adopt a budget before then. Our board is the body that does that, so we spend a lot of time over the spring semester developing strategies and priorities then we hope to bring forward a budget that addresses our values and critical needs. As you just mentioned, compensation was a big focus area for us last year as well as special education services and support. Unfortunately, because of timing, the legislative session had not yet [been] completed at that time, now it has. We still don’t have legislation around budget adjustments for public school districts, but we are expecting a special session, so we are working with our Central Texas delegation and our communities to communicate what that impact means for our school district and families. We are committed, we have strategies to ensure the budget we approved remains the budget and is supported throughout the school year, but we are always eager to see what the state does, and we are hopeful the state will increase the basic student allotment.”
Remadna: Will the HVAC systems be ready for the start of school?
Segura: “Things have been much improved, and it has been a progression over multiple years. If you think back to the 2017 bond program and the investment, we had to improve HVAC systems that had been built up and we were able to supplement that and build off that with the 2022 bond program. So, from an overall number of classrooms, we have about 5,000 classrooms, the vast majority of them are properly heated and cooled. We do have a few areas of concern, we are working through those to provide temporary cooling units, but by in large we are very well positioned. One of the things we do every year is… systematically go through every single space with the school district and do an assessment to make sure we are ready for the school year starting and we address any last-minute HVAC issues at that time. I just met with our chief of operations, Christine Steenport, got a final report and we are very well positioned to start the school year cool and comfortable.”
Remadna: “A question that comes up is how many teacher vacancies are there? Last year, there were some problems. Where are we today and are there any departments that still need support?”
Segura: “We are much better positioned this year than we were last year, I think a lot of that has to do with our climate and culture, certainly the compensation increases have helped. As of right now, we are 94% filled. We do have some key areas that we are looking to fill still. Some of these certifications whether it is multilingual education or special education services can be difficult, but our teams have been working very, very hard. If we think about the educators being the single unit of change in the classroom for our students, having those areas being filled is critically important as we start the school year. We are 94% [positions filled], very close to being 95%, which again is much better than we have been in years past.”