AUSTIN (KXAN) — In Austin, one in five students ends up changing schools in the middle of a school year, according to the district’s mobility rate data.
A former Austin Independent School District board member says that’s because families are being priced out of their homes.
“It’s not just an issue in Austin ISD. It’s a statewide issue, as well as a national issue,” said Doyle Valdez who served on the board from 1998 to 2006.
In fact, Leonor Vargas says her team of parent specialists hears from parents every day. She’s AISD’s Administrative Supervisor for Parent Programs.
“We have families who before housing wasn’t an issue because they had employment, and they had stable income, and something happens,” Vargas explained. “They lose their job. They have a family who is faced with having to declare bankruptcy. Or they haven’t been able to keep up with their mortgage payment.”
In one situation, she said a family was having to figure out how to pay for rent with just one source of income because the kids’ mother passed away.
“The word that comes to mind is anxiety,” Vargas said.
Valdez said that’s why he created Mobility Blueprint. It’s a home search tool that shows school boundaries.
“What we’re trying to do is be proactive and say let’s help our families stay within the boundaries of their schools, so their children can keep the same teachers and the same peer group,” he said.
The platform lets you search by schools or your address. The results show the number of available apartment units or duplexes and their prices.
Vargas says all AISD parent specialists are now trained to use the site, and parents can also log on on their own.
So far, Vargas and Valdez say they haven’t tracked the usage, but they have heard some success stories.
“Even if you have one at each of our schools, that’s 130 families. If you have two, then that’s 260 families, so it’s a success,” said Vargas.