EPISD Bond $527 Million and Counting

EPISD has started determining which projects will go into the bond initiative.  So far, they have agreed on $527.3 million worth.  However, this number could go up as the Facilities Advisory Committee considers more projects on August 2 and presents their final list to the EPISD Board of Trustees on August 9th.  So far, here is what is in it:

  • Merging Bradley and Fannin elementaries at the Bradley site — $20.8 million
  • Closing Clardy Elementary and relocating students to a new prekindergarten through eighth-grade school built at the current Henderson Middle — $42.3 million
  • Closing Bond and Roberts elementaries and relocating students to a pre-K-eight school built at the current Lincoln Middle — $47.8 million
  • Consolidating Bonham Elementary and MacArthur School — $19.9 million
  • Merging Johnson Elementary and Morehead Middle into a pre-K-eight — $38.0 million
  • Merging Schuster, Crosby and Dowell elementaries into a new elementary built at the Dowell site — $30.6 million
  • Merging Collins Elementary and Terrace Hills Middle into a pre-K-eight — $38.3 million
  • Building a new Northeast middle school to replace Bassett Middle — $34.6 million

However, we have to agree with Brutus, nowhere have they stated what they are going to do with the buildings that are closed.  Will the property be sold?  Will it be renovated?  What impact would doing either of those items have on raising or lowering the bond?  It would appear that we are only getting half of the story.

Additionally, school closures are a tricky subject.  Before the meeting began Thursday, two South Central residents, Guillermo Glen and Hilda Villegas, resigned from the committee. The residents said: “With the proposal of closing Beall elementary and sending 450 children to a school that’s in an area that’s high trafficked. As well as now a proposal to include by TxDOT another highway that’s going to put our children even more at risk.” According to KFOX:  Villegas said Beall Parent Community is starting to move forward with legal council. “We went ahead and resigned, and as a community, we’ve gone ahead and consulted lawyers,” Villegas said. “They already signed a contract with us.” If this results in their school staying open, we predict that many other parents will follow suit.  This could result in a very expensive and complicated process.

Then there are the teacher’s raises.  Last month EPISD announced that they were not raising your property taxes but that they were going to give the teachers a 1.5% raise.  HOWEVER, they were hoping that they would be able to give the teachers an even higher raise with the passage of the bond:  “With a bond approval in November, the district said it can consolidate more campuses and increase salaries.”  Before we vote, are they going to tell us how much all of this consolidation will raise teacher’s salaries?

Although EPISD has reported that there is widespread support for the bond (The El Paso Times claims that “60 percent of the 350 respondents somewhat or strongly supported a $600 million bond initiative”), support for a bond decreased when voters learned of the potential tax impact.  What kind of weird survey was it that asked them if they supported the bond without telling them how much it was going to cost them?  Maybe they are going to use that $250,000 of your money that they already approved for marketing to ‘educate’ the public.

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