In case you missed it, here’s the email sent to Austin Independent School District Partners from Dr. Maria Carstarphen’s office as a follow-up to her State of the District event on November 30.
Thank you for joining me at the third annual AISD State of the District Address-both in person and online!
I was delighted to open the event to the tune of “Singing in the Rain,” thanks to the wizardry of the McCallum theater team. There is much to sing about as we say goodbye to last year’s budget cuts, TAKS and the 2011 Legislative Session.
It’s been stormy at times this past year, but the clouds are starting to clear. Your support is critical as we move in the right direction and make progress toward our goals. I am pleased that we have earned your support and am very proud of our district and our outcomes.
The district’s commitment to students has remained steady as we focus on boosting their academic performance, which has resulted in successes such as:
- For the second year, at least 80 percent of all students met or exceeded state standards in every subject;
- Achievement gaps have narrowed by half since 2003;
- The district has made steady academic progress over the past year and throughout the history of the TAKS testing program, which is being replaced this spring by the new STAAR assessment system; and
- More students are applying and are ready for college than ever before!
Working together, the district’s team members have achieved remarkable things, despite a challenging budget situation. We also maintain the second lowest tax rate compared to surrounding districts.
On the budget front, I am excited to report the district is on sound financial footing. This year, there will be no layoffs and no declaration of financial exigency, so that our staff can feel secure in their jobs and focus on the work of educating children.
However, even with all of the great achievements, we will face some challenges-so we will need to continue to prioritize, stabilize, and optimize during the biennium to ensure we can build on these successes.
Together, team members throughout the district are working to:
- Improve educational outcomes by boosting early literacy and graduation rates and by meeting the needs of the growing population of English Language Learners;
- Improve special education performance to meet federal standards for Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP;
- Use the Facility Master Plan Framework to create a plan for the use of facilities throughout the district; and
- Transition successfully from TAKS-centered test preparation to the “Whole Child” model under STAAR.
As the State of the District concluded, guests joined me and McCallum students to renew our commitment to addressing these challenges together by singing “High Hopes”-a fitting closing note to a period that is sounding with optimism for the future of AISD.
Thank you for your steady support throughout the stormy days and for remaining focused on the bright side of our work-creating and strengthening educational opportunities for children.
And, thank you for your commitment to the district and to the children of Austin. I have high hopes for their-and our-continued success!
Meria J. Carstarphen