Victory Pages March 2011

Austin Interfaith Victory Pages A newsletter on the successes of Austin Interfaith member institutions March 18, 2011 · Pre-Kindergarten Saved: Even though state funding was dropped from all day Pre-Kindergarten, it was spared from being cut from the AISD budget. Pre-Kindergarten is an issue priority for Austin Interfaith and leaders began meeting with the Superintendent months ago on this issue. · Dove Springs Clinic Expansion: Last month the board of the Central Health District voted to expand the clinic on William Cannon & I-35. The $800,000 expansion will help serve the many underserved residents of southeast Austin from an urgent triage clinic to medical home. Austin Interfaith has worked for the expansion of basic services in Dove Springs. · Innovation Grant Progress: Leaders working on the Innovation School initiative asked AISD School Board Trustees to ratify a fair In-District (or Campus) Charter Policy that makes a way for public schools to petition the district make change at the campus level. At a board meeting earlier this year the trustees ratified the new policy. Since then leaders have met with the Superintendent and her senior cabinet to discuss the initiative. House Meetings Progress: Since the start of the new-year Austin Interfaith leaders have held 120 house meetings with approximately 1000 people. Through these small group conversations leaders have identified more local issues, ranging from anxieties around school closures, job loss, issues facing immigrant families, and neighborhood safety. All member institutions are encouraged to do events with house meetings through March. House meetings are one of the key elements for organizing. Education Organizing: On Wednesday, February 09, 2011 over 140 parents, teachers and community members from several schools, congregations, and neighborhood associations from the south side met at Travis Heights Elementary. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together a broad constituency that supports adequate funding for public schools and values neighborhood schools. After a briefing about both the budget decisions made, thus far, by the AISD school board and alternative proposals leaders gathered in small groups to hold conversations about how the proposed cuts affected their children and their families. They also began conversations about what they were willing to do in order to ensure that the schools and the students received the adequate funding necessary for an effective public school system. Senator Kirk Watson’s aide on education attended the meeting. Neighborhood Safety in Dove Springs: Austin Interfaith leaders in Southeast Austin / “Dove Springs” held a meeting on Thursday, February 3, with l00 people at Widen Elementary School. The community shared how criminal activity occurring on their streets, in parks and fear of being victimized again. Austin Interfaith leaders, Pastors, residents, school staff, Commander Pedraza, PCT 4 Constable Canchola, Ms. Santana of Rep. Rodriguez’s office, and several City of Austin departments: Parks/Recreation, Austin Public Library, APD Gang Prevention, Neighborhood Planning and Development were in attendance. Principal Kim Royal proposed to the community and guests a “No Excuse” contract that ask everyone present to commit to work together to rebuild and reclaim our neighborhood. Everyone present signed the commitment. NEXT STEPS · Austin Interfaith Leaders Meeting, Thurs., March 24 at 7:00 pm. Location: Cristo Rey Catholic Church · Austin Interfaith Spring Accountability Session, Sunday, April 10 at 7:00pm. Location TBA