EPISD Bond 2016
The EPISD Board of Trustees unanimously voted on a citizens- driven recommendation for a bond referendum of $668.7 million.
Here is a look back at how thus unfolded:
2014 a nationally recognized engineering firm visits all 90 plus campuses and reports on facility condition, capacity and data supporting ongoing declining enrollment.
2015 the state-appointed Board of Managers approves a Facilities Modernization Plan.
2016 the elected Trustees hires two architects to validate and prioritize over 30 projects worth $1.2 billion. An 80-person, district-wide Facilities Advisory Committee is formed. The facilitator was chosen due to her successful, transparent work with YISD. The committee visits schools, reviews data and builds consensus for projects totaling $668.7 million. Their recommendation to the Trustees is unanimous.
The EPISD annual operating budget is just under $500 million. The Trustees has demonstrated the ability to drive down costs while driving resources to classrooms. Despite deficits, we have passed two balanced budgets in the last 2 years. Over the last four years we have lost 4400 students (which equates to $26 million in annual operational funds) yet provided two moderate salary increases, increased dual language classes by over 400%, implemented new project-based learning programs in 8 Schools, added 21 new fine arts teachers and placed $12 million in our general reserves.
In 2015-16, 18,000 laptops were successfully distributed to high schoolers and teachers, with the goal of migrating to EPISD teacher-created digital textbooks. [These were the first in the state developed by a public school district.] It saved $2 million in textbook purchases the first year.
The bond recommendation includes capital necessary to expand Laptops to middle schoolers and eliminate additional textbook expenditures. Bond money for technology and other short term assets will have debt terms equal to the life of the asset (e.g., facilities have 30 year debt, buses have 10 year debt and Laptops have 3 year debt).
The bond recommendation includes consolidations that will realize $9 to $18 million per year, every year, in costs associated with operating underutilized schools.
The recommendation also includes capital for school buses to replace many of our buses which have far exceeded their recommended mileage.
The bond recommendation includes money to rebuild or partially rebuild 7 of our 10 high schools. Our schools are on average over 50 years old, and in such poor condition that it has become more cost-efficient to rebuild than remodel.
The state of Texas does not fund for school buildings. Communities must rely on local property taxes. Other Texas cities such as Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio have made similar investments in their legacy, urban school districts. Our teachers and students in El Paso also deserve safe, comfortable and modern learning environments.
The trustees are sensitive to the impact of this investment. The process was fair and impartial. It is time to invest in our schools, our community, and, most importantly, our children.
Board of Trustees