EPISD facilities plan

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.

12 Responses to EPISD facilities plan

  1. JerryK says:

    Well, back in the day not all students were judged equally. The people could handle it that their little Johnny wasn’t smart enough to make it to college and there was a vocational track in HS for him into trades or just labor. Of course, back then a laborer could actually make a living in the local paper mills or other factory and there was no reason to waste his time and school resources in 4th year math or Latin.

    Today, that would be called discrimination but it worked for society. Now, little Johnny can get into UTEP and waste his life even more except his job is in China. That is something we could work on changing. Isn’t Trump talking about that?

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  2. Anonymous II says:

    Weaver writes an interesting piece. I was hooked until I got to this sentence: “And remember that the Educational Reform people would like to see Public Education bite the dust thus more vendor opportunities for their people.” Who are the Reform people? And who are “their people?” Does Weaver also think Castro killed Kennedy? Conspiracy theories always kill a good argument.

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  3. Deputy Dawg says:

    Specious at best. Mr. Wever loves to lob bombs that SOUND right, but for the most part, are either wrong, outdated or at least slightly misleading.

    For instance, he fails to mention that the funds needed to maintain buildings are not related to the funds that are used in the classroom for academic purposes. He lumps them together into one big pot even though he knows that funds that came from say, a bond, cannot be used for academics like books, teacher professional development or salaries.

    He also does not compare EPISD to YISD or SISD. Building-wise, EPISD has too many campuses, even if you compare that to YISD (yes, taking into account student population) because most growth in EPISD happened duting the 1950-60s and some into the 70s while El Paso was growing. EPISD is no longer growing yet the schools are still getting older and needing more maintanence, just as an older house needs more maintenance than a younger one. And the number of campuses is not being lowered which it should be. One way to actually save money is to close low population/high mainatance campuses, and consolidate them.

    Mr Wever would do well to attend one of the many EPISD Trustee meetings that are being held currently around town. There he could express his concerns and get real answers.

    Finally, Mr Wever loves to blame the ubiquitous “central office” for any and all problems, while at the same time never once asking if perhaps teachers and the famous teacher organizations might be at least partially responsible for poor test scores. “Central Office” is not in the classroom everyday with the kids. Teachers are.

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    • Dan Wever says:

      Deputy Dawg, sorry I did not write what you would have liked but let me address your last paragraph with an example of what happens in the EPISD. State law allows Principals to hire all teachers and other people in their schools. This was done because law makers understood that the Principals were the people that knew and understood what was necessary for their schools. So the “Central Office” people come up with a plan to take away from the Principals this power. How is it done? A $60,000 a year test is purchased from Gallup (Dewey wins fame) and all prospective new teachers have to take and pass the test. This is not an Intelligence test but rather some off the wall test that shows whether or not the teacher will be a good teacher based on the same test being passed by “great” teachers. And if the new teachers do not pass the test then they do not even get to interview with the principal so therefore the central office is controlling who the principal gets to interview. Of course if the new teacher happens to be friends with a high up central office administrator, then passing the test becomes easier and the Principals many times learn to hire the people sent to them.
      So you see Deputy the central office really does have a hand on what goes on in the schools and with the central office selecting most of the educational materials for the schools they are probably more responsible for poor results than the teachers. It is funny the teachers are told what to teach, when to teach it and how to teach it and if the students don’t do well then the teachers are blamed.

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  4. Anglocentric says:

    Nearly half the students taking STAAR in 8th grade can’t get 26 social studies questions right? I could understand numbers like that in math, but social studies is probably the simplest area of study students encounter. It would be nice if instead spending more money on packaged programs, the school system would spend some time looking at root causes. Is more parental involvement needed? Are Juarez students using false addresses to attend school over here skewing results? Is there a disconnect between what is taught for Texas social studies vs. what transfer students are learning? Are teachers to blame? It seems to me before you can solve the problem you need to candidly analyze root cause and that means forgetting about what is politically correct and focusing on addressing what isn’t working. One of the reasons I complain about taxes is because so much of what EPISD gets appears to wasted and their only solution appears to be to tell us that they need to spend more per student. Based on reading this, the waste is even bigger than I thought.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Mr Weaver is absolutely correct. I don’t always agree with him, but on this he is correct.
    After schools are closed we will still be paying off part of the 2003 & 2007 bonds

    The past 2 bonds were passed with information the school district, city of El Paso and chamber of commerce presented.

    With all these schools closing who do you think will be interested in buying them ??? Hmmmm

    Charter Schools ? Planting the future ??

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    • Tried to help, but not welcomed says:

      Anonymous is on target! As soon as Zavala Elementary closes, it will be sold and become a charter school. How do I know? Because the Pastor aligned with Project Vida down the street from Zavala directly informed two trustee candidates, at the time, that they are ready to purchase the building. BTW, one of the candidates is now the trustee for that area. I was the other candidate.

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