EPISD bonds–too much at one time

The $500 or $600 or $700 million that the district will end  up asking us to vote for cannot be handled by the district in a span of time that makes it reasonable to give them that much money.  Once we give it to them future boards will be free to “repurpose” it as circumstances change.  They have done it in the past and will do it again.

As a case in point please remember that in 2007 we voted to give them $207 million.

Take a look at this June 29, 2016 presentation to the current facilities advisory committee:

2007bond

Nine years after we voted to give them money they are still “In Design” for major projects.

EPISD tells us that changing demographics are causing them to have to close and consolidate schools.

If nine years after allowing $207 million the district has not even begun projects, what can we expect if we give them five or six or seven hundred million dollars today?

Their financial calculations (such as they are) assume that they will issue all of the new debt at today’s interest rate.  The only way to guarantee that would be to sell all of the bonds immediately and thus have us pay interest on money that we cannot use because the construction planning and building process at EPISD cannot schedule all of their proposed projects at once.

The safer way for the public to do this is to grant the issuance of a significantly smaller sum of bonds and then watch to see if the district can complete the projects that we vote for in a reasonable period of time and with reasonable costs.

EPISD should ask for less money and then come back to the voters in following years if they have handled our money wisely.

Stay tuned over the next few days as we point out other problems with their plans as they stand now.  Once again, our goal at this point is to try to help the school board see what we perceive to be problems with what the district is considering so that a reasonable bond referendum can be offered to the voters.

We deserve better

Brutus

10 Responses to EPISD bonds–too much at one time

  1. Curious says:

    I think Valenti and the UMC board repurposed bond money and look where that got us. Once UMC got their way with Children’s Hospital, there haven’t been any updates related to UMC’s current financial performance. The last public financial statement was quietly released about 10 months ago. No recent updates regarding their use of the millions of dollars of bond money they got several years ago. The silence is deafening.

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  2. Dan Wever says:

    It seems that every bit of information that comes out of the EPISD is wrapped in high powered spin. We are told that the district has lost 5,000 students and thus millions of dollars of State ADA money. I have a question. How much does it cost to educate 5,000 students that we do not have? Why should we complain and use it as an excuse to fool the public about needs.
    The bond issue that the consultant said would be needed to fix educational problems have had their recommendations turn into a modernization program. The modernization program is necessitated by the new educational programs that the EPISD has adopted. (There is no viable data that says the new programs will work so in effect our students are guinea pigs for the “educational reformers”)
    Now it is leaked that the bond amount will be higher than originally thought, but this is nothing more than part of the sales job put out to the public. They will come back with an adjusted lower amount and if makes the bonds more palatable. And if the bond issue does not pass in November which it probably will not then the amount will be lowered again and brought back in a few months just like Ysleta did.
    In straight bond elections some strange things can happen because the school district gets to make the rules as to how the public is allowed to vote. The school district gets to say where the early voting stations will be located and they usually use schools where there is no parking during school hours, they get to select which precincts are open as long as at least 50% of normal election are open. They also get to say where the mobile voting stations go every day and schools are usually assigned. They will make another drive to get the seniors in the school registered to vote and have them vote when the mobile voting stations come around. If one of the normal voting precincts is located in a senior citizens center or home it will be closed and people that normally vote there will be assigned another location away from their home because old people don’t like to vote for tax increases even if it does not affect them. The process is very scientific and costs money but I am sure the district can come up

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    • Chico says:

      Dan, If they asked for a lower amount (2/3 lower) and had specific projects that were clearly delineated, based on public plans for school closures and consolidations, they may have my support.

      However, much more work needs to be done to make this more transparent. I am very worried about the situation predicted by Brutus – projects not being done on time and rampant insider “repurposing.”

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  3. Helen Marshall says:

    Not unlike a bond issue for “Quality of Life” four years ago, which the powers that be are still trying to figure out how to implement (given, among other things, totally nonsensical estimates of cost produced by Saint Joyce and her team).

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  4. Judy Maddox says:

    Anyone who votes to give ANY governing body in this City any kind of Bond money that is not designated for a specific purpose should have their head examined, money is not being used to educate our kids so don’t tell Me it is for good of kids.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  5. Chico says:

    Can we also get some clarity on school closings first? It doesn’t make sense to commit to capital improvements for schools that may or may not stay open. Case in point, recent football stadium at Jefferson. Are we keeping Jeff? Closing Bowie? Keeping both? What’s the plan? Don’t build anything until you have a plan.

    Cabrera’s goal here – push this vote through in November to capitalize on higher voter turnout (read – younger and less politically savvy) to ensure a “yes” vote on the bond. Quality planning and public transparency are casualties of this timeline.

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    • Sad El Pasoan says:

      Cabrera needs to understand that property taxes are going up this year and that all the wonderful investments made by city council have failed. He needs to stop dreaming! Taxpayers cannot support a Cadillac plan when most people in El Paso can barely pay their mortgage.

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  6. Jerry K says:

    Agreed. EPISD needs to demonstrate competence in execution of plans. I certainly will not be voting in support of this but I would for a more modest approach.

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  7. Tickedofftaxpayer says:

    And let’s not forget that this is a district so hooked on building their empire that they are spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars in marketing expense to compete against other local districts to boost attendance. Shut down the unneeded schools and layoff unnecessary staff.

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  8. Tickedofftaxpayer says:

    You hit the nail on the head. This isn’t about money they actually need. It is about borrowing large amounts at low interest rates. Public entities are all becoming addicted to this and it isn’t sustainable. It is bad for two reasons. First, it motivates the district to spend money on things that are nice to have, but not absolutely needed. Second, the debt load then limits the district’s borrowing capacity so it becomes unable to borrow money for the must have issues that come up later. We can already see these dynamics in the City’s bond issue. Projects are overrunning budgets, new stuff is being added and the overruns will get worse as the timeline stretches out because costs will increase. We really need to say no to this low interest rate borrowing frenzy.

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