EPISD is considering closing ten of its elementary schools.
At the same time they are building a new central office complex near downtown.
The district knew the schools were underutilized years ago.
The district has so far admitted to needing to issue at least $29 million in bonds to pay for the construction. They say they will also be using money from their “reserves”.
Then again it looks like they are going to have ten empty schools with nice big playgrounds that could be used for parking for the legion of central office administrators that they are going to have to move.
Back in 2015 we published Thoughts about the new central office.
We pointed out what some other school districts spend on their administrative facilities.
We deserve better
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.
At the community meetings held on Monday and Tuesday, 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 from 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.
We got it the first time. Please don’t post lengthy diatribes twice. A simple refer-to-my-comment-yesterday would suffice.
Was this harsh rebuff really necessary? A good deal of Mr. Miranda’s comment (not a diatribe) here was not in his comment yesterday…
Sorry, but you’re wrong about there being a good deal of difference.
Wow, I hate being right about the Bond being the tip of the iceberg. And about everything now being about following only the correct political narrative. And, worst of all about the corruption of the current administration.
I used to be so proud to work at EPISD.
Now, it is a fearful dread I feel every day just walking into the building.
But, I need this job (until any other opportunity arises). So, I wear my heels everyday, and smile the smile of the joyously damned to everyone I meet in the office or the hallway. I continue the tight rope act of keeping a pleasant office attitude towards me without encouraging the creeps into action. It’s not so hard for me as it is for my younger colleagues (who have a much harder time with the creeps).
And, I repeat the mantra of the day: “I AM EPISD, Excellence starts with me” while I await the next radical change in the admin structure or the next multi-million dollar program to be summarily dropped for a bright shiny new program (that does the exact same task with some new progressive cool name).
“I told you so” stopped being a thing several hundred million dollars ago…
BRUTUS, great point:
“Then again it looks like they are going to have ten empty schools with nice big playgrounds that could be used for parking for the legion of central office administrators that they are going to have to move.”
XAVIER MIRANDA had this SOUND, REASONABLE recommendation:
“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 recommendation is certainly VALID, since three local school districts now face this perplexing problem of declining student enrollment.
But, but, but THEY just scammed the taxpayers, HOMEOWNERS out of almost a BILLION$$$ Bond. What happens to that “Construction” money? Is that just a “Slush fund” now? With all the EMPTY schools, they could sit their arrogant, over paid butts in the schools. They need more than 1, 2, use 3, 4. But we can be sure that ANY school building would not meet the WANTS for a new “World Headquarters PALACE”, for Cabrera, the EPISD minions. Tax, waste, spend, tax some more. Time for MORE FBI investigations here.
There is no sane, fiscally responsible justification for the new headquarters near downtown. If you follow the money, the big spend on new administration headquarters downtown is easy to figure out. The family of the previous board president is renovating a hotel downtown. People visiting EPISD will now stay at a downtown hotel. Cabrera and members of the board want to be part of the downtown power club. They are buying their way into the club using our money. If they can close schools, they can stop the plan for the new downtown headquarters, but they won’t.
Does anybody here believe this is NOT a done deal?
done deal. trust me.