Changes coming to Austin ISD in new school year

The new school year for Austin ISD is just days away and the district is talking about the changes students, parents and staff can expect this year.

"This year we're focused on being game changers," said AISD board president Geronimo Rodriguez.

AISD is changing the game for 80,000 students come Tuesday by offering more educational programs, more money for school employees and more clothing options for students. 

"We changed our dress code so it's one that represents our values as a school district, but also as the Austin community and it's something that we had been studying," said Superintendent Dr. Paul Cruz.  

As long as clothing covers students' private areas and undergarments, items like leggings, ripped jeans, tank tops, hoodie sweatshirts, religious headwear and baseball hats are all fair game this year. 

"We're having conversations with our families and our students and, of course, our staff about it," Cruz said.  

Students will also have more options when it comes to getting ahead in college. 

"The early college high school model blends high school and college coursework to let students earning a high school diploma simultaneously earn up to two years, 60 hours of college credit," said Rodriguez.  

"You talk about the early college program, there's a new one that's opening up at Navarro. The Navarro Career Launch Program opening up just in a few days at that school," said Mayor Steve Adler.  

There is plenty of good news for AISD teachers as well as they reap the benefits of House Bill 3, the $11.6 billion school finance bill passed last legislative session. 

"Teachers and staff at AISD will be receiving one of the highest pay raises in the district's history," Rodriguez said.  

Teachers, counselors and librarians with more than five years of experience will see a seven percent pay increase, while the rest of the district's staff will get six percent more than they did last year. 

"So, we need to make sure that we're investing in our 21st century buildings and investing in our people to make sure we retain the best teachers and the best administrators," said Rodriguez.  

Lawmakers hope that will help increase literacy across the state. While in Austin, educators are doing their homework to stay on top.  

"AISD is a leading school district, not just in Central Texas, but across the State of Texas," said State Senator Kirk Watson, D-Austin.