EPISD purchasing

October 31, 2014

Looking at the district’s formal “Purchasing and Acquisition” policy some things trouble me.

From the policy:

“The Board delegates to the Superintendent the authority to make budgeted purchases of goods and services that cost up to $100,000 and other purchases of goods and services in accordance with other provisions in this policy.”

Presumably that means that the board does not even have to be notified of the purchase.

Then further from the policy:

“The Superintendent shall also be authorized to approve budgeted purchases of goods and services made in accordance with an inter-local cooperative contract up to $250,000 per vendor in the aggregate of a 12 month period.”

In light of what we have seen in the past, this seems dangerous to me.

It is particularly troubling if in fact the board (and therefor the public) do not have to be informed of these purchases.

Is the board to busy to even look at how our money is spent?

We deserve better


Dangerous intersections?

October 30, 2014

Brio, our new rapid transit system was launched Monday, October 27, 2014.

One of the features we have been told about is the ability of the bus operator to hold an already green light green.  I’m not sure this is a good idea.  People will probably learn how to follow closely behind or beside the buses to take advantage of the extended green lights.


One of our regular readers told me about a harrowing experience she had on the first day of  Brio’s operation.

She was driving on Mesa in the northbound direction.  She needed to turn left onto an intersecting street.  She had a green light and was positioned to turn left.  A Brio bus passed through the intersection in the south bound direction.  When the light turned yellow on her side she proceeded in order to get out of the intersection.  Her supposition was that the south bound traffic would also have a yellow light soon to be followed by a red light.

As she turned left she was almost broadsided by a south bound vehicle.  She realizes that it was her responsibility to yield and that had an accident occurred it would have been her fault.  Shaken, she looked up at the light from the south bound side and saw much to her surprise that the south bound lanes still had a green light.  Evidently the Brio bus had succeeded in holding the south bound light green but the north bound lights were operating independently.

When I expressed disbelief and my thoughts that she might have been seeing things she was adamant that she had experienced what she had related.

Word to the wise

If she is right we are going to have some problems.  They will ultimately have to fix this.

Please be careful.

We deserve better


Yet another layer at EPISD

October 29, 2014

The El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) recently announced that they have promoted one of their high school principals to the position of master principal.  This is evidently a new rung in the district’s hierarchy.

It appears that we now have:

  • A superintendent
    • Two executive assistants
  • A deputy superintendent of academics
    • An executive assistant
  • Three area superintendents
    • Each with their own executive assistant
  • An executive director of school leadership operations
    • Two coordinators of leadership support
    • An executive assistant
  • A dizzying array of support departments (pupil services, family student and community engagement, and so on)
  • A newly minted master principal
  • School principals
  • School assistant principals
  • School counselors
  • Teaching coaches

all before we finally get to the classroom teachers.  I apologize if I left any important bureaucrats off the list.

Yes, there are many talented, dedicated people working at the district in jobs outside of the schools.  I applaud them.

I worry more about the classroom teachers.  They don’t even get enough paper to run photo copies.

We deserve better



Bad report card or something deeper?

October 28, 2014

According to a recently released report titled “Comprehensive System Review of EPISD” (read all 999 pages here), “This board hired Juan Cabrera as the new superintendent in the fall of 2013, and one of Mr. Cabrera’s first decisions was to have a comprehensive system evaluation conducted to determine where key strengths and weaknesses exist in the system”.

The district has placed a link to the report prominently on the home page of their web site.

Before we start

Let’s first admit that very few of us know how to read a report like this and compare our district to others.  We should understand that in an organization as big as EPISD policies and rules are not always understood by everyone, much less obeyed.

EPISD may have done pretty well in the review.

Not the way it looks though

It seems to me that the report has more to say about what they observed that was not good than it does about what good it found.

For example in “STANDARD 1:  The School District Demonstrates Its Control of Resources, programs, and Personnel” the report lists these five findings:

Finding 1.1:  The structural configuration of the El Paso Independent School District does not match its success metric.

Finding 1.2:  Evidence of planning was found in the El Paso Independent School District, but planning processes, plans, implementation strategies, actions steps, and communication protocols are inadequate to provide a clear focus with which to guide district initiatives, program direction, and system operations.

Finding 1.3:  Board polices are difficult to navigate and lack content and sufficient specificity to provide [t]he adequate quality control needed for effective management of curriculum and other district functions.  (Brutus’ note–evidently the report writers have some problems with quality control too).

Finding 1.4:  Job descriptions are inadequate in scope and in the ability to clearly communicate rules and responsibilities associated with curriculum design and delivery.  The organizational chart does not meet audit criteria and is inadequate to reflect sound general management of the school system.  The lack of a clear organizational structure is impeding communications across the system and contributing to a sense of organizational distrust.

Finding 1.5:  Critical human resource management system functions are weak in their capacity to support instructional priorities of the school district.  The teacher appraisal process is inadequate to inform improved curriculum delivery, district planning, or decision making.  Policy direction is weak in establishing clear criteria for making personnel decisions concerning teacher transfers and ineffective teachers.

Believe it or not, there are four more standards that were reviewed.

What does this mean?

The fact that the district has published this report so prominently has me wondering.  Often the district is not forthcoming with uncomplimentary information.  Then again maybe they want us to know what needs to be fixed.

Is our non-elected board of managers going to do something with this report?  Are we soon going to learn about steps to improve the situation?

Is this an effort to get public support for changes that the district thinks the unions will fight?

Since most of findings 1.1 to 1.5 address administrative issues are we about to see an overhaul at the top levels of the district?

The findings document things that many have been saying about the district.

What will happen next?

We deserve better


Mysterious phenomenon

October 27, 2014

We re all enjoying a mysterious phenomenon.

Whenever a national election is near the price of gasoline drops.

I guess we should be thankful.

We deserve better


Frustrating web page

October 26, 2014

Is it just my computers or are we all having horrible experiences when we try to access http://www.elpasotimes.com ?

The pages take forever to load, the screens jump around in the middle of my trying to navigate, and ultimately my entire machine is slowed to a crawl.

I seem to have fewer problems when I use the Chrome browser on this site instead of Internet Explorer.

If enough of you agree I think I will forward this post to the Times.

We deserve better


Reckless endangerment

October 25, 2014

I do not understand.

Ebola is highly contagious.  We do not understand it well enough to develop an anti-virus for it.  Arguments persist about the methods of transmission and the period at which it becomes contagious.

Yet we have health care professionals that know that they have been in direct contact with the virus who go out in public before the 21 day incubation period that the CDC is telling us about has passed.  Now the World Health Organization is telling us that they think the incubation period is 42 days.

The latest case is that of a physician who travelled to west Africa to help with the crisis.  Good for him.

When he returned to the United States he did not show his fellow citizens the respect that I would expect.  He has told us that he rode the public subway in the city of New York.  He also went to a bowling alley and at least one restaurant.  He feels he was symptom free at the times.

Now he has Ebola.

Now businesses in New York will suffer economic disasters.  People have been exposed needlessly.

Why wouldn’t a highly trained medical professional like this doctor quarantine himself voluntarily until the currently understood incubation period  passed?

Then again why haven’t the authorities mandated quarantine for these people?

We deserve better



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