Previously, the dividing line between districts 5 and 7 was the Colorado River, but that line had to be moved south as far as Convict Hill Road. That means neighborhoods such as Travis Country will be in the new District 5.
By Tony Tucci
Residents of Southwest Austin will have new representation on the Austin school board this year due to population changes that shifted district boundary lines to the south.
In order to comply with the “one person, one vote” guideline established by the U.S. Constitution, the AISD board moved parts of eight elementary schools from District 7 in the Southwest to District 5. Two candidates are running for the newly enlarged District 5 seat — Amber Elenz and Charlie Jackson. They will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The incumbent, Board President Mark Williams, announced he is not seeking re-election.
In District 7, incumbent Robert Schneider’s term will not expire for another two years. The boundary changes were dictated by population figures from the 2010 U. S. Census that showed the districts were not of equal size and had to be redrawn. The boundary lines will remain in effect until the next census in 2020. Previously, the dividing line between districts 5 and 7 was the Colorado River, but that line had to be moved south as far as Convict Hill Road. That means neighborhoods such as Travis Country will be in the new District 5.
The elementary schools that are affected are Boone, Clayton, Cowan, Kiker, Mills, Oak Hill, Patton, and Sunset Valley elementary schools. District 7 will pick up a new elementary school set to open on Meridian Boulevard. The 2010 census showed the AISD with a total population of 635,931, making the ideal population for each district at 90,847. But District 7 had a population of 116,129, while the population of District 5 was 88,111. All except District 2, with a population of 89,056, had to be adjusted.
District 5 candidate Amber Elenz has worked as a volunteer with the schools for 13 years. She is the outgoing president of the Austin Council of PTAs, and previously served as PTA president at Bryker Woods Elementary and O. Henry Middle School. She is a former broadcast journalist, and graduated from UT Austin with a degree in communications and from Northwestern with a master’s degree in business administration. Elenz and husband Doug have two children, Reed, a freshman at Austin High, and Aubrey, a graduate of Austin High. They live in West Austin.
“I’ve spent the last two years working with the Austin Council of PTAs on a program to bring parents and principals together,” she said. “Now I want to take what I learned and apply it at the campus level.”
Charlie Jackson has been active with the schools for many years, and previously served on a technology committee to help the schools with computer programs. He has two grown sons, both now in college. One of them is a graduate of Bowie High School. “I’ve been attending school board meetings for years, and like many people, I think the schools are struggling and need strong leadership,” he said, adding that he would like to help find solutions to problem areas such as school financing.
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