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2011 Austin stories: Voters approve new school intermediate school

Austin voters approved a $28.9 million bond issue in November for Austin Public Schools build a new fifth- and sixth-grade school, and add classrooms and improvements to Woodson Kindergarten Center.

The new school building will be located just east of Ellis Middle School.

The need for additional school facilities is a result of growing enrollments in the district. Over the next four to five years, 400-500 more students are expected in the district. The expected growth should reach about 1,000 kids over the next 10 years, according to a demographic study done in the district.

Woodson's project will start construction in February and conclude in August, so the building will be ready for the 2012-13 school year. Construction for the new school will begin in summer 2012 and is tentatively scheduled to conclude in May 2013, ready for the 2013-14 school year.

Sixty-four people from the district are part of the building steering committee to help create ideas for designing the new intermediate school building. The building will have a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) focus for 884 students and will be 112,250 square feet.

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The voter-approved new school comes after data was released in September indicating the district failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals for the fourth year in a row. None of the district's schools met AYP goals either.

New school board members

Incumbent Austin School Board members Kathy Green and Don Fox were elected to another term, the fourth for Green and second for Fox. First-time candidates Angie Goetz and Greg Larson also were voted onto the board.

Fox, Goetz, Green and Larson will be part of a school board that will work to open the new intermediate school. They will serve three-year terms, as the district continues the transition from odd-year to even-year elections; terms are usually four years.

Sumner starts 45/15 calendar

Sumner Elementary School became the first in the Austin district to move to a modified, 45/15 calendar. They started school Aug. 1.

School is in session for four 45-day quarters, with 15 days off in between. Summer break will be 30 days. That shorter break could be beneficial when it comes to the "summer slide," when students forget what they learned the previous academic year, school  officials.

The school just finished up its mid-year benchmarking, and the results look positive, said principal Sheila Berger, showing that they're already seeing difference academically

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Superintendent gets 3-year extension, pay raise

Austin Public Schools Superintendent David Krenz got a new three-year contract with the district. The deal includes a 2.5 percent salary increase for this school year, raising his pay to $139,359.

The three-year extension, which salary increases the first two years with the third year to be negotiated, was approved by the Austin School Board in December. The contract is for the period of July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2015.

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