AUSTIN -- The Austin School District is heading back to school with a new focus this year.
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, Ed.d. outlined her goals in a district-wide convocation Wednesday morning. She met with the staff at Austin High School and presented a video that illustrated the new goals.
This year the district will be centered on four key components: literacy, a balanced budget, compensation and the AISD Facilities Master Plan.
According to Carstarphen, AISD got back some of the money that was slashed during the 2011 Legislative session, but it's still not enough. AISD remains under a $30 million shortfall.
Carstarphen is emphasizing ways to save money, including cutting back on energy expenses, leaving empty positions that don’t directly affect the classroom unfilled, and avoiding any expenses that aren't necessary. She calls it a balancing act.
“You are constantly doing trade-offs with two or three good things,” explained Carstarphen.
She says if the district can save an extra $2.4 million then teachers will get an additional 1.5 percent raise on top of the district-wide three percent raise. Carstarphen hopes that by finding the money to pay Austin teachers more, AISD will see improvements across the board.
“The most important thing we can do for our district is to have the best people in front of our students every day and that means compensation and being competitive in this region,” she said.
Carstarphen is asking everyone at AISD to promote literacy among students as well.
“It's kind of that magic formula that will pay off in the end for all of the students. We know that there are many things that get in the way of a child being excited about school and what we're asking is that all staff kind of put a full-court press on ensuring that they're doing everything that they can,” said Carstarphen.
The superintendent modeling her entire plan off one word: hope.
“Hope is a better predictor of college success than test scores or GPS,” said Carstarphen. “That doesn’t cost us. It doesn’t require anyone to do one more thing than to say ‘I believe in you.’”
The new school year starts Monday, Aug. 26.
Carstarphen’s entire presentation will play out on the AISD channel every hour throughout Wednesday. You can watch it here.
You can also watch it with the player below.