Austin superintendent rallies task force to get back to long-term plan

Melissa B. Taboada:

Austin schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen met with facilities task force members Saturday to encourage them to broaden their scope and not to focus as much on the district’s looming budget crisis.
In recent weeks, the task force seemed to stray a bit from its mission of creating a 10-year plan on future schools, renovations and attendance zones. After it earlier this month named nine schools that could be closed for efficiency’s sake, outraged community members rallied to save their schools.
Although the long-term plan probably will have recommendations on closures, task force members said they felt pressured to produce short-term fixes to help the district get past one of the worst anticipated budget shortfalls in its history.
On Saturday, Carstarphen, in effect, told task force volunteers that was her burden, not theirs.
“There’s only so much in efficiencies you can do,” she said. “You can’t do it all. You don’t need to do it all.”

Austin School Board.
The Austin School District’s 2010-2011 budget is $973,997,900 for 86,000 students ($11,325.55 per student). Madison’s 2010-2011 budget is $379,058,945 (according to the January, 2011 “State of the District” presentation for 24,471 students. That is $15,490 per student.