June 21, 2018
EPISD is considering closing ten of its elementary schools.
At the same time they are building a new central office complex near downtown.
The district knew the schools were underutilized years ago.
The district has so far admitted to needing to issue at least $29 million in bonds to pay for the construction. They say they will also be using money from their “reserves”.
Then again it looks like they are going to have ten empty schools with nice big playgrounds that could be used for parking for the legion of central office administrators that they are going to have to move.
Back in 2015 we published Thoughts about the new central office.
We pointed out what some other school districts spend on their administrative facilities.
We deserve better
June 20, 2018
The Times tells us that EPISD is considering the closure of 11 elementary schools that are underutilized.
That may be a good idea.
Then again we should not have any confidence in the belief that the district has figured out where to move the students and teachers to nor what the moves will do to their bus transportation needs.
Will the schools that receive these students have the capacity to handle them? Don’t assume that the issue has been thought through.
For all we know they will decide that they need to build new schools to replace the ones that they are closing.
The taxpayers also deserve answers as to why the district spent millions of dollars on brand new multipurpose buildings for some of these elementary schools when they knew that the schools were underutilized.
The picture below was taken on June 21, 2016 at Carlos Rivera elementary school, one of the schools that they are thinking about closing.
The banner tells us that they were building a new building for the very school that is now on the list for closure.
The district knew that these schools were underutilized for years yet they wasted our dollars building unneeded facilities.
I wonder who will ultimately profit from these properties.
We deserve better
June 19, 2018
Even our state legislative delegation is upset over the rush job EPISD is trying to pull relative to the school closings.
How do we know that the schools that they have chosen are the right ones?
Part of what the legislators wrote to the school board is printed below.
They are not only concerned with the lack of time for public input but they point out that the district’s published budget numbers don’t make sense.
When one group of politicians gets on the wrong side of another group there is always a price to pay.
We deserve better
June 18, 2018
According to KTSM our EPISD superintendent and one of the school board members will be out of town and will not attend the public meetings held to discuss the closure of ten elementary schools.
We have been told that the out of town meeting is important and has been scheduled for months.
The superintendent and school board members should be at the public meetings. The simple solution is to reschedule those public meetings so that the officials can attend.
The solution is so simple that many of us can see that in reality our superintendent does not want to attend.
We deserve better
June 17, 2018
Max Grossman sent this in:
The Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation, one of our state’s most influential advocacy groups, has a Facebook page that is followed by 315,091 people. In a recent post (5/25/18), they singled out El Paso for having the highest hotel occupancy tax in Texas.
According them, the top three reasons for ditching the hotel occupancy tax are as follows:
“1. This tax is supposed to fund projects like convention centers, which are supposed to then turn a profit. Sometimes those convention centers never turn a profit and sometimes they are never built in the first place.
2. This tax can hurt small businesses and local economies by discouraging tourism and siphoning away money that could have been spent locally.
3. Like any other private industry, the travel and tourism industry should not rely on taxpayer money for promotion and funding of its activities.”
As you know, some years ago the City tacked 2% onto our HOT, raising it from 15.5% to 17.5%, in order to fund the operations of a Ballpark that loses more than $500K every year and does almost nothing to support the hotel industry. Do you think anyone actually travels to El Paso and stays in our hotels to enjoy AAA baseball? We are constantly told that we deserve state-of-the-art facilities and that we must provide new amenities in order to keep El Pasoans from leaving El Paso. But in the end, we are being asked to subsidizeentertainment, even as our City’s tax-supported debt stands at more than $2 billion, we have the 2nd highest homestead tax rate among the 50 largest cities in America, and our streets are in third-world condition!
Since our City managed to turn a $50-million Ballpark into a $130-million boondoggle that will lose tens of millions of dollars over the life of our 30-year contract with the MountainStar Sports Group, and we are already $56 million over budget on 11 QOL bond projects, do you think we can trust the same City to manage the construction and operation of an “Arena” that comes with a price tag of $180 million?
Enjoy your day.
June 16, 2018
Max Grossman sent in a more lengthy post than the portion that we post today.
We have found that shorter articles make a stronger point with our readers.
From Mr. Grossman:
What a difference 20 years makes! I have attached a Wall Street Journal report by Patrick Barta entitled “El Paso Bets Union Plaza Will Enliven Downtown.” Back in those days, Union Plaza was a 19-block neighborhood that was designated as an entertainment district. We read: “By the end of 1999, $53 million will have been spent to make Union Plaza such an attractive entertainment district that Mayor Carlos Ramirez and City Council members figure businesses will be fighting to lease space. And proponents see a revitalized Union Plaza with new retail stores and restaurants as a boost for the entire downtown, bringing in more jobs and greater tax revenue.” That was about the time when the City of El Paso published its now-famous 1998 cultural resources survey of downtown El Paso, which identified numerous potential landmarks and historic sites throughout the Union Plaza neighborhood.
The link to the original article. WSJ 22 Apr 1998
June 15, 2018
Will city council pay attention?
The slide below is from a recent budget presentation made to city council:
The very next slide in the presentation recaps what the public told them our priorities ought to be:
City staff seems to think that streets are at the bottom of the list of quality of place/life issues.
We think that they should be number one.
Our desire for improvements in our parks does not even make their list.
They know what we want. Will they do it?
We deserve better