Now that we have an elected El Paso Independent School District board, allow me to offer a few suggestions.
Stop the new central office
The city wants EPISD to move away from the land they have been leasing to the district. I hope that the new board works to convince the city to let the district stay. The estimates that have been shared with us are that the move will cost forty to fifty million dollars.
The school district pays for the land. Many of us guess that the city wants to use the land to build another airport hotel. If things proceed as they have been this hotel will receive tax subsidies from the city. How can the taxpayers benefit from a situation like this when the move will put us forty to fifty million dollars in the hole before they even break ground on a new hotel and the city already has a paying customer.
Stop the one million dollar architectural contract the district has signed to design the new central office. If it turns out that the city will not budge, then the district should find an unused building and move there. There is talk of closing some schools because of declining enrollment. Make do with one of those buildings.
Pay as you go
The district has it’s hands tied here in many ways. State laws control much of the ways schools are financed. The board should do what it can to avoid assuming debt. Some of us might understand taking on debt if the district was growing and more capacity was needed. In our case district enrollment is declining and there is talk of floating bonds to build more buildings.
If some new debt is unavoidable, seek approval from the voters in smaller amounts. Come to us with plans to solve some of the district’s problems over the next three or four years. Prove to us that the board and district staff can use our money wisely and for the things that we approved, then if necessary ask for more money to handle the following three or four years. Don’t come to us with a $600 million bond issue all at once. The voters in the Ysleta district just turned down a $451 million bond issue and Ysleta has not been involved in the scandals that your prior boards have.
Get rid of the incompetents
I know and have dealt with many central office employees who are competent and hard working. There are some really fine people there. We also have some that are not competent and should be terminated. It actually would not be difficult to find out which is which. The teachers know who these people are.
Teachers are a different matter because of their contracts. Once a teacher has been with the district for a while it is far more difficult to get rid of an underperforming one. The contracts need to be changed.
The district must follow state rules relating to academic testing. Many of us feel that the issue is handled poorly and that the district and the teachers should be allowed more flexibility.
Physical education is another matter. While there are good coaches and schools with good programs just asking the students would tell us where we are not getting the job done.
Change your attitude
The prior school boards and the board of managers have done damage to the district’s relationship with it’s citizens. Eliminate the parliamentary tricks that are being used to restrict public input. Stop scheduling meetings when you know the public and district employees will not be able to attend.
Start listening to your citizens.
I feel certain that our readers will come forward with their thoughts.
We deserve better