This came in from Dan Weaver:
The EPISD’s new facilities plan generated by the report of Jacobs Engineering emphases the loss of enrollment as being a driving factor in these decisions. While the State money is decreased when enrollment drops we seem to forget that it does not cost as much to educate students that are not in attendance.
The school district submits to the TEA its estimate of the enrollment for the coming year and are paid according to this estimate. If the estimate is too high then the district has to pay back the extra money it received the next school year because of its bad estimate. This is the only way big bucks can be lost due to decreasing enrollment figures, administrative error or a bad estimate and spending the money anyway which has happened quite often in the EPISD. School employee decreases are covered by attrition every year so enrollment would probably not come into play in this area.
The 1.3 million dollar cost of the Jacobs Engineering study must not have taken EPISD history into account as millions of dollars in taxpayer money from the 2007 Bond issue had already been spent on many of the schools that Jacobs said should be closed and torn down and the kids bussed to other schools. An example is Alta Vista that had over $600,000 spent on it and it is supposed to be one of the first to be closed and that is understandable as it sits on a square block of Montana-Copia valuable business property.
How anybody could think that putting students on a bus for a 45 minute trip from a neighborhood school area to and from a non-neighborhood school every day is going to help them do better in school is beyond me.
The plan has morphed from an educational improvement plan into a district modernization effort.
After looking at STAAR Social Studies results for the last 2 years I think we need to worry about education first and modernization sometime in the future, after at least 85 percent of our students can pass the test in all areas.
Let’s look at the EPISD district 8th grade STAAR Social Studies test results for 2 years. 2013-1014 and 2014-2015. There are 52 questions on the test and it takes 26 correct to pass it for both years. In other words 50% correct will get the students a passing grade.
Now of course the district is going to do everything it can to help the students learn the material and this is shown by RFP #13-043 Social Studies Materials and Resources which spent $358,000 on 15 companies for the 2013-2014 test year.
The results for the 8th grade Social Studies in 2013-2014 showed 4,016 students were tested and 1,910 or 48% FAILED to score at least 26 out of 52 questions which was passing.
The next year 2014-2015 after another $358,000 was again budgeted for Social Studies (RFP#13-043) with the same 15 companies, you would think somebody would look and see that money spent and companies used was not working. The results for this year showed 4,094 students tested and 1,879 or 46% FAILED to again score 50% on the test.
So the education of our students has been pushed to the back of the EPISD educational bus to make room for the District of Innovation cheerleaders and the new bond committee and modernization team. And please understand my hats off to the committee members for trying to help but IMHO they are being used by the Education Reform people. And remember that the Educational Reform people would like to see Public Education bite the dust thus more vendor opportunities for their people.
But a little note to the members of the bond committee. Please remember that the only information you will get will be what the Administration wants you to see. The bad run down schools are the buildings that the Administration wants you to see and any school district in Texas with any age will have the same problems. The EPISD has spent $294,276,166 for the last 6 years on Plant Maint/Operations (51) and this amount is in line with other districts with similar demographics.
Also the EPISD has many professional Facilitators working with you, so what you come up with will be very close to what the Administrators wanted, before you were selected for this committee. You will be issued warm fuzzies for recommending any negative actions that upset the natives. It is better to have 70 or 80 volunteers for this purpose than 7 trustees possibly running for reelection plus you and your families and friends will make up a good voting block for your bond election.
We are surrendering our Public Education to the Educational Reform people and I do not think we will want what this gives our children, these 8th grade scores are just a preview of coming attractions.