Austin: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

The Austin Independent School District (AISD), the largest public school system in the metro Austin area, was ranked one of the nation's top eight public education systems by Forbes magazine in March 2004. Magnet schools such as the Science Academy and the Liberal Arts Academy serve outstanding students from throughout the school district. Through the Austin Partners in Education program, every school in Austin is in partnership with one or more businesses and organizations that donate millions of dollars in cash and in-kind resources such as school supplies, lab and technology equipment, and landscape materials to support AISD schools and programs. In an effort to enhance its fund-raising capacities, Austin Partners in Education reorganized as a non-profit organization in 2004.

The following is a summary of data regarding Austin Independent School District as of the 2004–2005 school year.

Total enrollment: 79,788

Number of facilities elementary schools: 74

junior high/middle schools: 17

senior high schools: 12

special campuses: 4

Student/teacher ratio: 22:1 (kindergarten through grade 4); 25-26:1 (grades 5-6); 28:1 (grades 7-12)

Teacher salaries

minimum: $35,080

maximum: $56,800

Funding per pupil: $6,644

A number of private and parochial schools also offer diverse educational opportunities to city students.

Public Schools Information: Austin Independent School District, 1111 W. Sixth Street, Austin, TX 78703; telephone (512)414-1700

Colleges and Universities

When it comes to higher education, Austin has a proud tradition. The city had barely been established when the Congress of the Republic of Texas mandated establishment of a "university of the first class." Today, the University of Texas at Austin is joined by six other institutions of higher education in the metropolitan area. The city's 2000 census paints a picture of a learned populous: 83.4 percent of adults have a high school diploma, while 25.7 percent have earned a bachelor's degree, and 14.7 percent have obtained a graduate degree. Austin's educational bent is a major attraction for businesses. The University of Texas at Austin is the nation's third largest university (Fall 2004 enrollment) and has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top research institutions in the country. Its network of research and resources creates a stimulating environment for businesses, and companies benefit from a highly trained workforce.

The area's other institutions of higher education include Austin Community College, St. Edward's University, Concordia University at Austin, Huston-Tillotson College, Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas State University at San Marcos, and Episcopal and Presbyterian seminaries.

Libraries and Research Centers

Best-selling author and Austin resident James Michener once commented, "The libraries in Austin—you can't imagine how good they are." The large central public library and its 20 branches maintain a collection of more than 1.5 million volumes and about 2,500 periodical titles; special collections are maintained at the Austin History Center near the main library. Each of the colleges and universities has its own library whose collection reflects that institution's research interests and curriculum. Austin is also home to numerous special libraries that preserve the records of businesses, research firms, associations, and governmental agencies; the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum houses the 36th president's papers and other memorabilia. At least 80 research centers affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin sponsor investigations into everything from classical archaeology to artificial intelligence. Other of the city's notable research centers are Sematech, a consortium of U.S. semiconductor producers and the U.S. government; and the National Wildflower Research Center, brainchild of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson, whose facilities are open for tours.

Public Library Information: Austin Public Library (Faulk Central Library), 800 Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78701; telephone (512)974-7400