Saturday, September 29, 2012

AISD Explores New Way of Funding Schools

AISD is exploring a new way of funding schools that will make a huge difference in how they spend government money by tying the funds to students.  The district is in the process of trying to get roughly $2 million in grants to find where funding inequities exist and to come up with a new student-based formula, reports.

Right now, AISD distributes funds primarily based on state staffing formulas, program requirements or building needs, which does not ensure that if a child transfers schools that the actual cost of their education is covered.  Under the new system, which follows a model used by many districts including Chicago, Denver, Boston and Houston, different "weights" are given to factors such as being poor, gifted, or an English Language learner.

AISD has long been accused of funding inequities, but this is the first time they have considered using this new system, which is meant to make sure extra funds follow needy students, but which also could put a burden on small, underenrolled schools.  The goal is to have schools be able to use the funds they are given as they see best.  

Critics point out that because principals are able to determine how money is used, they become much more powerful in this sort of system.  They also often are not able to use their budget to its full potential because they do not have the experience in allocating money.  

Critics also say that the system can really affect small or underenrolled schools negatively because they don't have the economies of scale of larger schools.  A lot of small schools in Houston were forced to cut nurses, librarians and art and music teachers because the money for these positions were not there, resulting in parents pulling their kids out and leading to even lower enrollment.

Looking for a great Austin apartment where you can allocate your funds wisely?  Call Apartment Specialists today!

Monday, September 24, 2012

WTA is going PINK!

WTA realizes the importance of using our resources to give back to our community. To that end, we have participated in raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the last 4 years. WTA's Go Pink Campaign has raised almost $13,000 for breast cancer awareness, treatment and research and in 2012, our fifth year, we want to raise at least $3,000 through our Passionately Pink Campaign for Susan G. Komen. 75% of the funds raised stay in the five county area: Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Hays and Bastrop.

WTA is proud that in 2011 we were one of the top 20 Austin fundraisers for the Susan G Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure. Our team, "Forever Young", named in honor of our very own Natalie Young, a breast cancer survivor and Ford Warriors in Pink Model of Courage, had 13 racers from 3 cities and raised more than $2,500.

We need your help to make 2012 our best year yet! If you are an onsite, you can mark your referrals 'Susan G Komen' and we will donate an EXTRA $25 to Susan G Komen on top of your referral fee through November 4th, 2012. Want to do a little more? You can spend some face time with us by joining our race team, Forever Young! You can also donate on your own to the Forever Young fundraising team.

Thank you so much for your support as we continue to race towards the goal of ending this disease.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Food Trailers Have Become a Key Piece of Austin's Economy

Food trailers have become ubiquitous on the Austin foodie scene, but it wasn't always that way, Statesman.comreports.  Trailers now number 1,200 in Travis County and are an important part of Austin's unique culture, but just 6 short years ago, were limited to taco stands on the East Side and the "roach coaches" that traveled to construction sites to feed workers.

When Torchy's Taco's owner Michael Rypka opened his first location on South First in 2006, the year that also saw the debuts of Hey Cupcake and Flip Happy Crepes, people scratched their heads at what in the world he was doing selling food out of an Airstream.  But now, in addition to that first trailer, Rypka has 11 other locations, including in Dallas and Houston, plans to open two more Austin locations, and keeps 450 people in a job.

The popularity of food trailers (and trucks in some cities), continues to rise nationwide, and in Austin, it has contributed a new facet to Austin's identity, adding "foodie destination" to a robust resume that already has "live music capitol" and "silicon hills" under special skills.  In addition to attracting tourists, food trailers are a great small-business opportunity in a town crawling with entrepreneurs and they serve as test kitchens for a lot of chefs who go on to open brick-and-mortar restaurants.  

Trailers appeal to those wanting to start serving food because opening one costs a fraction of opening a restaurant in a building.  Counter Culture owner Sue Davis started her business in a trailer on North Loop before trading it in earlier this year for a brick-and-mortar version on the East side.  She said Austin's a great place to open a trailer because people are always eager to try the next new thing and write about it.  It's maintaining a business "after the buzz (that) you have to worry about.", she says.

Looking for a great apartment near all the best trailers?  Call Apartment Specialists today!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Relax and De-Stress At Home

Relaxing and de-stressing at home seems like a natural thing to do, but sometimes we walk in the front door to find so much undone work that it can feel like coming home is the start of a second job.  Apartment Therapy helps you to find peace with your home and find "real comfort."

Try making an appointment with yourself to unplug and unwind in your apartment or house.  Put it in your calendar and treat it like any other meeting by not scheduling anything at that time.  You may feel like it's indulgent to take care of yourself, but the truth is you need "me" time to make sure you are at your best both physically and mentally.

During your weekly appointment, completely turn off all your devices:  phone, computer, tv, etc.  This is about staying away from technology and all those intrusions in modern life.  This is time to spend alone, so select a time when those who dwell with you are gone, or lock yourself in your room.  Don't feel bad about hanging up a sign saying, "intrustions under penalty of death!"  However, you can allow in your furry four-legged friend.  Time with your pets can really add to your feeling of happiness and well-being.

Write down what makes you happy and pick something from your list to do during your hour each week (or go crazy and add ANOTHER hour).  For no less than 60 minutes, take the time to indulge in something that you find completely relaxing:  reading, bathing, painting, etc.  Make sure it recharges your batteries and resist the temptation to sneak in that unplugged technology.

When you're done with your time, write three adjectives that describe how your experiment was.  This little task will make you more likely to follow through and help you realize why this me time is so important.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Long-Running Legal Dispute Over Downtown Property Resolved in City's Favor

The City of Austin has won in a legal-dispute that has been raging for years over a downtown block it built a parking garage and chilling plant on after condemning it.  The Texas Supreme Court ruled in the city's favor Friday, saying that the city did not "act fraudulently or in bad faith" when it assumed ownership of the land on Red River Street between Fourth and Fifth Street, reports.

The land belonged to Harry Whittington, an Austin lawyer who became infamous when he was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney during a hunting trip in 2006.  Whittington has been suing the city for over ten years, asserting that the city did not follow eminent domain laws by demonstrating that the block was necessary for a public purpose.  He is considering filing a motion to have the court rehear the case and has 30 days to do that.

City Manager Marc Ott says that the city will pay Whittington $10.5 million for the land, which is the amount a 2007 jury determined the land was worth.  

Whittington and his family first gained ownership of the land in the early 1980's and wanted to build shops and lofts on it.  In the late 1990's, the city said the land was necessary to build a 700-space garage for the convention center and sixth street visitors and a chiller to cool the convention center and other downtown buildings and sought to condemn the land.  

Whittington said that there was parking available at another city-owned garage and that the Hilton convention center hotel developers had reneged on a deal to build underground parking, saving the developers $10 million.  

In 2003 a judge ruled that the city could build the garage, which was completed in 2005.  In 2007, a jury ruled in Whittington's favor, saying Austin had illegally condemned the block.  That ruling was upheld by the 3rd Court of Appeals, so the City asked the Texas Supreme Court to hear the matter, who ruled in their favor.  

Looking for a great apartment near downtown with parking?  Apartment Specialists can help you imminently find your new domain!