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Bill Would Rotate UIL Events Out of Austin
   Every year, the battle cry for high school athletes                            Asked what the UIL thinks of the proposal,
across the state is “Austin or bust!” That’s because                           spokeswoman Kim Rogers said that as state
in every sport except football – as well as in many                            employees, she and other UIL staffers are pro-
academic, theatrical, and music events – the                                   hibited from expressing an opinion on the leg-
University Interscholastic League annually holds                               islation. However, listening to Rogers describe
its championship competitions in the Austin area,                              the logistics of hosting the events, it’s probably
often on the University of Texas campus.                                       a safe bet that the UIL would not enjoy the
   That cry may have to change if the Lucio family                             headaches of moving them from city to city.
has its way. Companion bills – House Bill 68 filed by                          “Essentially, it would mean that we would have
Rep. Eddie Lucio III and Senate Bill 101 filed by his                          to move every activity every year,” Rogers said.
father, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., both of Brownsville –                            “I guess [there would be] a financial impact in
would bar the UIL (the governing body for public                               just going to a new site, traveling for our staff
school competitions in Texas) from hosting “regional                           and participants to different locations, making
or statewide” competitions in the same location in                             sure we have the same kind of accommoda-
consecutive years.                                                             tions. It could lead to the fact that maybe there
   That could have a huge economic impact on                                   will not be another facility in the state that
Austin. The events bring thousands of athletes,                                could accommodate.”
coaches, parents, and others to the capital city,                                 The Lucios leave a loophole for that last
meaning hotel bookings, restaurant sales, and shop-                            point: The bill stipulates that an event may only
ping dollars. According to the Austin Convention &                             be held at a site if “the infrastructure and
Visitors Bureau, the total economic impact of the UIL                          capacity of the location’s facilities are sufficient
basketball tournaments each March is $19.2 million.                            to serve the needs of the competition” and that
The boys teams draw 108,000 visitors and $11 mil-                              a location may be used in consecutive years “if
lion; the girls bring 38,000 visitors and $8.2 million.                        an alternative location is not available.”
The state track meet brings an estimated 40,000                                   The other areas of the state aren’t necessari-
people and $8 million to town.                                                 ly being bypassed due to lack of facilities.
   “The Rio Grande Valley for many, many years has                             Rather, Rogers says, state events have long
been bypassed, simply because we did not, for a                                been held here because “we are part of the
very long time, have the facilities,” said Lucio III.                          University of Texas. We host a number of activi-
“But with the economic growth, the economic devel-                             ties on campus at UT facilities because we are

                                                                                                                                      DON BENDER
opment, we have so much to offer the state now.                                a department of UT, and we are centrally locat-
[Holding the events annually in Austin] also has an                            ed in the state, so it makes it easier for partici-
undue burden as far as costs for our school dis-                               pants traveling to state competitions. There are
tricts, for busing and hotels every year for our stu-                          a number of reasons why we have our events in                   Annually, tens of thousands of students, coaches, and parents come to the Austin
dents, and then parents, also, having to take off                              the places that we do. It’s not arbitrary. There is             area for athletic, academic, and musical state competitions, including the Track &
from work and travel to Austin every year.”                                    some thought behind them.”           – Lee Nichols              Field Championships at UT’s Myers Stadium.

                                                                            UIL STATE COMPETITION SITES
                                                                            Tennis: Penick-Allison Tennis Center (UT) and Lakeway World of Tennis            Soccer: Round Rock Independent School District Athletic Stadium
                                                                            Cross Country: Old Settlers Park (Round Rock)                                    Golf: Austin, various courses
                                                                            Volleyball: Strahan Coliseum (Texas State University)                            Track & Field: Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium (UT)
                                                                            Swimming & Diving: Jamail Texas Swimming Center (UT)                             Softball: McCombs Field (UT)
                                                                            Wrestling: AISD Delco Center                                                     Baseball: Disch-Falk Field (UT) and Dell Diamond (Round Rock)

                                                                            Basketball: Erwin Center (UT)                                                    State Marching Band: Alamodome (San Antonio)
                                                                                                                                                             Some other music competitions: Austin area, including UT

 Emerald City Press Success
                 Emerald City Press, the stylish little coffee shop that
                                                                            AISD REPORT CARDS GO ONLINE
             opened last year near the corner of Ninth and Lamar,              The era of the “dog ate my report card”         explained, “It’s one thing to talk the talk of             Education Austin President Louis
             has finally won its prolonged struggle with the city for       excuse comes to an end this week as                greater parental involvement … but this is              Malfaro said that, as a parent himself, he
             permission to add a guest seating area overlooking             Austin Independent School District                 what we’ve talked about in practice.”                   was “thrilled” by how much this allows his
             Shoal Creek. Since last July, the coffeehouse has sought       introduces Parent Connection, a new                   Parents and guardians will receive a PIN             and other families to become more readily
             a variance to excuse it from city parking requirements,        online service that gives parents real-time        code in the mail from AISD with which to                involved with their children’s education.
             which in its case called for 33 spots when it only had
                                                                            access to their children’s school records.         access their children’s records. The dis-               Speaking as a union chief, he called it “a
             seven. Prior to opening, Emerald City was advised by the
                                                                               Previously, the district’s electronic           trict started sending them out on Jan. 9,               good thing, because our members want
             city to set up shop as a walk-up/drive-through business
             and later seek the variance and off-site parking               records have only been open to staff, but          and any parents who don’t receive their                 parents to be paying attention.”
             required for the outdoor seating – but things got compli-      Parent Connection opens that information           code should contact the Parent                             Since Parent Connection uses the exist-
             cated when area parking availability proved scarce and         up to families. All students’ attendance           Connection service facilitator at their                 ing electronic grade-book system, Welch
             some nearby landowners opposed the variance (see               records and grade reports are available            child’s school. Since the PIN gives access              said, the only responsibility for teachers
             “Emerald City Blues, Oct. 10, 2008). Emerald City owner
                                  ”                                         online, while assignments will be posted           to confidential files, said Welch, “Treat it            is making sure that they set enough grad-
             Emily Fleming-Nash said she agreed to a number of              for third- through 12th-graders.                   like you would the PIN to a bank account.”              able work. Malfaro praised AISD for an
             conditions to win over her opponents. She shrank her              The new system goes live on Jan. 16                While not everyone has a computer, Welch             effective rollout that had kept his mem-
             seating area to 480 square feet (half what she originally      and is funded by last May’s school bond,           said, “we’re exploring some things we may               bers involved at every stage. “They didn’t
             sought) and agreed to no indoor seating, no on-site beer       making it a free service for parents. Six          be able to do at schools after hours when               leave us in the 19th century with our led-
             or wine consumption, no commercial kitchen, and no             campuses piloted the program last Novem-           there are still staff around.” In the mean-             gers and then say, ‘You’ve got a week’s
             business hours past 9pm.                    – Daniel Mottola   ber, and parents and staff greeted it posi-        time, parents with limited computer access              training to use this system.’”
                                                                            tively. AISD spokesman Andy Welch                  are encouraged to use public libraries.                                          – Richard Whittaker

18 T H E A U S T I N C H R O N I C L E JANUARY 16, 2009 a u s t i n c h r o n i c l e . c o m

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