EPISD School Closures, Bond and Policy Inclusion

We received this from Xavier Miranda:

Our EPISD Board of Trustees will be taking steps in improving the quality of education of our children. Although intents may be good, the manner in which they have proceeded has excluded the community at large. Cursory attempts such as online surveys, or jargon-filled informational snippet-presentations are the district’s notion of gathering community input on the District of Innovationinitiative.
Unfortunately, like many students and parents, our education community learns of these initiatives in the newspaper. Authentic inclusion and dialogue have not been evident. To make matters worse, district administrators and trustees have notified certain community members that school closures will be forthcoming.
One such closure is Beall Elementary School, located in theChamizal Neighborhood. School administrators have denied parents the opportunity to meet at the school, to discuss closure and organize accordingly. There is a mechanism in place, the Campus Improvement Plan, that is typically formulated by site administrators, teachers, staff, and parents to provide guidance in direction of our community schools. District officials and trustees have been negligent in making this process transparent and inclusive.
The closure is based on a study authorized by the previous Board of Managers that sought to close down 20 schools in our district.Jacobs Engineering firm, an outfit that specializes in making such recommendations throughout the nation, figured that Beall Elementary’s student population merited closure, regardless of the detrimental impact it would have on the Chamizal Community. 
Based on EPISD numbers, Beall has 442 students. While, Dr. Green Elementary with a population of 419 students, located in an affluent part of town, is not slated for closure. There seems to be a discrepancy in equity. 
If you notice, the members of the Local Innovation Committee, of whom are supposed to represent us, exclude current educators and South Side parents. In fact, Congressman Robert O’Rourke’s wife,Amy O’Rourke, serves in an official capacity at La Fe Preparatory School, a local charter school in the Segundo Barrio neighborhood. There seems to be a conflict of interest in this appointment; especially, when that school rated as unacceptable in the latest rankings of Children At Risk, an organization that assesses public and charter school effectiveness.
Aside from being excluded, educators are quite skeptical that acommunity group, that does not ethnically reflect the 83% Latino population of our district, is rubber-stamping policy that affects our children.
Additionally, the trustees are now taking the steps toward placing on the ballot a school bond in the approximate amount of $400 million. A major point of contention is that approximately $44 million will be set aside for the construction of new district offices for the superintendent and district officials.
A solution that has been broached numerous times at various community meetings, is to move district operations to the under-utilized campuses. It seems audacious to have our students learn in portable classrooms, while district officials are provided state of the art offices.
Yet another solution proposed, is to re-negotiate with the City of El Paso, the lease for the current district offices located on Boeing Street. Given the latest Hotel and Occupancy Tax report, in addition to the declining traffic at the El Paso International Airport, the proposed expansion of a hotel district would not be prudent.
Yet again, a lack of acknowledgement by elected officials, in this caseMayor Oscar Leeser, has yet to occur. Numerous attempts by community members to discuss the possibility of renewing the district’s lease have gone unanswered.
Our community has many ideas and resources that can address our school system, but it can only happen if we are included. A public invitation is extended to community, trustees, and the superintendent to meet with us every Tuesday afternoon at Cafe Mayapan starting at 4:30 PM.
Members of the Districtwide Education Improvement Council, are also requested to seek input from all stakeholders, prior to approving the District of Innovation initiative.
Please feel free to reply to this email if you are interested in collaborating in this effort.
A personal invitation is also extended for all to participate in theMarcha Campesina, which honors Cesar Chavez, this Thursday, March 31, 2016 starting at 4:30 PM. It has been organized by the local Farm Workers Center, and it coincides with the City of El Paso making a proclamation honoring Cesar Chavez. Please join the numerous organizations and individuals that advocate for our community.
More information can be accessed at the following link:



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