Shameful waste

The Times tells us that EPISD is considering the closure of 11 elementary schools that are underutilized.

That may be a good idea.

Then again we should not have any confidence in the belief that the district has figured out where to move the students and teachers to nor what the moves will do to their bus transportation needs.

Will the schools that receive these students have the capacity to handle them?  Don’t assume that the issue has been thought through.

For all we know they will decide that they need to build new schools to replace the ones that they are closing.

The taxpayers also deserve answers as to why the district spent millions of dollars on brand new multipurpose buildings for some of these elementary schools when they knew that the schools were underutilized.

The picture below was taken on June 21, 2016 at Carlos Rivera elementary school, one of the schools that they are thinking about closing.

The banner tells us that they were building a new building for the very school that is now on the list for closure.

The district knew that these schools were underutilized for years yet they wasted our dollars building unneeded facilities.

I wonder who will ultimately profit from these properties.

We deserve better

Brutus

 

21 Responses to Shameful waste

  1. good governance oxymoron says:

    EPISD taxpayers should be demanding answers from the board and CFO as to why they have not applied for funding from the State from the Existing Debt Allotment and Instructional Facilities Allotment like YISD.

    The funds are not competitive all they have to do is apply and the State will pay for half of the qualifying bond debt.

    That would pretty much erase their budget shortfall as well as alleviating some of the EPSID property owner bond tax burden.

    YISD is only issuing $215.25 million of the approved $430.5 million bond because they applied for and received additional state funding in the form of Existing Debt Allotment and Instructional Facilities Allotment which covers half of the bond debt.

    YISD actually decreased their tax rate in 2017 and are completing bond projects,

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      This is one of the best points I’ve seen made on this blog, particularly since YISD has already successfully done it.

      Like

  2. Concerned Tax Payer says:

    Instead of closing schools, they should get rid of so oh so many positions they have created like the assistants of the directors of the executive directors. They don’t communicate with each other and really, do we need that many? I doubt it.

    Like

  3. Xavier Miranda says:

    I’ve been with our district since 1970, first as a student, then as a teacher, and now as a parent. So I would like to give you my insight.

    Yesterday, various speakers referenced the lack of due process in relation to the school closures. Our school board representatives and district administration were remiss in following the mechanisms put in place so that authentic representation is evident.

    For example, Districtwide Education Improvement Committee, DEIC, comprised of community members, parents, teachers, and administrators, are to vet any proposed policy and actions prior to their implementation. Committee members are to review the proposals, present at campus level, and then solicit input from colleagues. Once these steps are fulfilled, members of the DEIC then vote accordingly. In the case of the closures, this process was disregarded, which may prove to be a violation of state policy.

    Secondly, recent news regarding our district have been focused on the political bickering between trustees and superintendent, questionable procurement processes, exorbitant consultant fees, and the first-class travel habits of our superintendent. Rather than focus on the impending budget shortfall and closures, trustees and administration give the impression that the education of our students is low on their priority list.

    Finally, the Jacobs Engineering group was paid a $1.4 million contract by then Board Manager Dee Margo and the the rest of the Board of Managers. This company is notorious for exploiting economically disadvantaged communities, and recommending austere measures such as closing schools and then paving the way for charter schools to fill the void. This is evident in recent news reports that Jacobs has secured a contract in Puerto Rico.

    Keep in mind that Jacobs Engineering recommended the closure of 22 schools, not just the ten in question.

    So the following are recommendations made by our collective community:

    1. Forgo the $44 million cost of the proposed administration building in downtown, and move operations to already shuttered schools. The savings could then be utilized to keep our community schools open.
    2. Cease any membership dues payments to Charter School alliance groups.
    3. Consider the relocation of the bus hub and maintenance operation to Bowie, given that environmental studies have demonstrated toxic air quality levels in the Chamizal community.
    4. Cease the sale of the 16 district properties until community input is secured.
    5. Place a moratorium on education consultants and their business-centered approach to education—-these have proven to be a waste of money. Rather, rely on the pedagogical training of experienced teachers to best design curriculum.
    6. Appropriate money from the $668.7 million bond for our students and schools, rather than to line the pockets of out-of-town contractors and finance companies.
    7. Conduct an authentic and public audit of our district’s budget, then allow public input to determine the best manner on how to proceed.

    Xavier Miranda

    Like

    • Old Fart says:

      XAVIER, why don’t you and your supporters ‘double down’ pushing the first recommendation on your list, which was:

      “1. Forgo the $44 million cost of the proposed administration building in downtown, and move operations to already shuttered schools. The savings could then be utilized to keep our community schools open.”

      That is certainly a SOUND and REASONABLE recommendation! Please push it hard with your EPISD supporters, in addition with all local media outlets.

      The El Paso Times prints guest columns in its Sunday edition. A lot of the columns now printed are unfortunately from individuals with ‘special interest’ connections. It would certainly be of interest, plus more helpful to read some guest columns on this important matter of current public interest. Think Trustee Byrd recently had one in the paper.

      Your first recommendation is certainly VALID since three local school districts now face this perplexing problem of declining student enrollment.

      Here’s a question if you don’t mind. Will those two Westside TIRZs the City is pushing impact EPISD? The only new TIRZ that may possibly make economic sense is the one proposed for the Cohen Stadium area.

      Like

  4. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of waste, a few weeks ago realestate.episd.org had a bunch of properties listed for sale, but today I notice the listings are gone. What happened? I hate to say it, but I worry that the EPISD administration and board president are like a drug addict pawning stuff to fuel their habit!! But honestly, did they change their mind about selling or are they just doing it out of the public eye? And I wonder who will get the commissions in those sales?

    Like

  5. Isn’t it Time? says:

    If Cabrera doesn’t have a plan to balance his own budget, he is worthless as a super. If he cant’t face parents at community meetings, he is worthless as a super. If the board doesn’t have confidence in his ability and they prefer he is ‘out of town’ at critical times, then he is worthless as a super. If he can’t even attend his own graduation ceremonies, he is worthless as a super. I hope the board is hiding him until they can work out a backro deal to remove him. It would be better if they publicly scold him as he deserves and then let him go for cause. He wants to be a politician anyway, I’m sure he is tired of playing Super. If not, let some other district have him for a while!

    The Board should know that our frustration with Cabrera is limited. It will very quickly become frustration with them. Mr. Hatch seems like a smart guy and I’m sure he is also quite frustrated with Cabrera. If we can rush to decide on school closures before the start of next year, surely we can find ourselves an interim super so that at the very least we might have confidence in our district leadership going forward. Our board members need to take a step backwards and appreciate the situation. The more they try to spin this the less trust we have. The recipe of holding community meetings and then just doing what the hell they want regardless of input has seriously eroded public trust. I will not vote to re-elect my EPISD board member.

    Like

    • Amazed says:

      According to the Times, hundreds of people showed up to the community meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Hundreds. I haven’t read about a single one who was in favor of closing these schools at this time. Not one. Did the paper hide their side of the story? Anyway, after hearing vulirtually 100% of the people at their meetings rally against this move, and with our legislative delegation also asking them to wait, why do I think they will vote tomorrow to close the schools anyway? We might as well be run by TEA again!!

      Like

    • don’t be fooled says:

      Hatch is a Cabrera supporter and apologist.

      Like

  6. Fed Up says:

    Just remember who is behind the charter school push in El Paso. It’s the same people who told you that minor league baseball was their “gift” to El Paso. They are also quoted as saying charter schools will attract more businesses to El Paso and boost economic growth. Cabrera has worked hard to endear himself to the people leading the charter school charge. Those same people happen to also be developers who are adding to the sprawl. Their new residential developments are outside of EPISD. They are not the least bit concerned about having a strong EPISD. It’s ultimately about the money. It’s always about the money. The incompetence of the EPISD board and administration combined with the ambivalence and personal agendas of special interests is a recipe for disaster.

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  7. For years, Carlos Rivera Elementary School had the entire school grounds filled with temporary sheds in which to conduct classes. Perhaps instead of using TIRZs to push the population further and further toward the edges of our city, the city should be using them properly to revitalize those areas where there is a large exodus and thus be able to continue to use existing viable resources.

    Also, have we, as a city, every REALLY tried to consolidate the school districts into one single district that could serve our entire county? Just think of the savings and planning possibilities we could achieve for every child growing up in El Paso if we did that

    Like

  8. Someone is not letting me the truth says:

    There is no doubt EPISD is inefficient with so many small campuses which are the product of a long history. Most people would understand if there was an open, fair, and intelligent plan to consolidate schools. But when the Super is MIA during this crisis it displays his lack of leadership skills and experience. Also, when the Board disagrees with itself and puts out two sets of conflicting numbers, it amplifies our lack or trust and introduces more confusion. Who do we believe? Is the budget shortfall from the slow and steady decline of enrollment over that last 10 years, or is it because we are adding new stuff (like expensive Apple laptops or New Tech schools) to the budget? When they try to cram this down our throats at the last minute, they are basically asking us to trust them. I personally don’t trust them, not with 600 million, and not with the process they are using this week to close schools. It isn’t what they are doing but how they are doing it. Like most, I trust my local schools (I even trust them with my children) but I don’t trust the hacks at Boeing (not even with my tax dollars). The Board votes on Thursday. I can’t wait to vote in the next election because, we truly deserve better!!

    Like

  9. Rico Suave says:

    Good planning =Good management

    Like

  10. Old Fart says:

    The unfortunate thing with some of our local school districts, is you have people who demand keeping ‘under utilized’ schools near them open, regardless of the overall economic and tax impact to district property taxpayers.

    If you take time to dispassionately wade through all the bull shit arguments’ and justifications over why some of these schools can’t be closed, you will find that some people are rigidly tied to the ‘status quo’ and will accept no reasonable change.

    This current EPISD school closure debate is a ‘case study’ example of the problem locally elected officials face. The only likely solution is for the state legislature to step in, and start restricting state funding for inefficient, underutilized schools.

    You can also see why some people are willing to support other educational venues to educated their kids, other than the public school system.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I think we need to shut down underutilized schools and cut all costs (including personnel) that are no longer required by a shrinking district.

      Like

  11. Anonymous says:

    Tax, waste, spend, tax some MORE. That is all that people at EPISD know. Everybody that works on Boeing should be charged with waste, fraud, misappropriation of funds, mismanagement. And if they charge all of them, maybe will get the right ones. The ones that steal from TAXPAYERS, regardless of how ridiculous, wasteful the spending is. Maybe one day VOTERS, TAXPAYERS will stop giving THEM all the money they lie about and say “It’s for the children”. When compared to these people now, Lorenzo Garcia was little more than a piggy bank “robbery”.

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  12. Mike Schwartz says:

    Brutus, it is a good idea to close 11 elementary schools. They could probably also close 2 or 3 middle schools since without the feed from the elementary the MS utilization will be down. I doubt they have worked thru who will go where and how the buses will be rerouted. The district continues to be in a spending panic. The multipurpose classroom additions no doubt were to satisfy New Tech or some other “essential learning initiative.” Who will ultimately profit from the closed schools? Charter schools might. The law says the district has to offer those schools first to a charter group. Does the district know what its is doing? Of course not. They need more money to study the problem and more money to fix the problems. No one person is in charge. Instead you have each of the Trustees with their projects. Cabrera and a couple of admin types with their projects. Other admin types with their pet projects. And a couple of groups within central office that are bound and determined to run things their way. Not enough voter participation tells all these project managers that they don’t have to worry about oversight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Wever says:

      Mike, what do you mean buses? Take Alta Vista for example, the 4 schools that they say the students will be assigned to are .9, 1.4, .9 and 1.5 miles away from Alta Vista and that means most of the students will be within walking distance of their new schools.

      Like

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