Interested in Being on the EPISD Bond Oversight Committee?

According to a recent interview with Superintendent Juan Cabrera on KFOX, one of the first steps with the new EPISD bond is to assign a bond oversight committee.  How will the select individuals for the committee?  “In terms of the makeup, it’s up to the trustees and how they decide to want to select it,” Cabrera said. “More than likely, each trustee will get a couple of choices and I myself as superintendent will get a couple of choices.”

So, if each trustee will get a couple of choices, we thought we would let everyone know how to contact the trustees so that people could volunteer:

Bob Geske: bgeske@episd.org

Al Velarde: avelarde@episd.org

Susie Byrd: sbyrd@episd.org

Diane Dye: ddye@episd.org

Chuck Taylor: ctaylor@episd.org

Trent Hatch: thatch@episd.org

Dori Fenenbock: dfenenbock@episd.org

The EPISD Board of Trustees haven’t actually asked for any volunteers.  However, if they are going to get “… a diverse group of people that represents the community, whether that’s a part of town, or what they do,” (as Susie Byrd stated), then why not let the community volunteer?  So, if you are interested, LET THEM KNOW! You need to hurry, they are trying to have the committee established by next Wednesday.

EPISD Bond Passes

There were so many surprises on election night:  Donald Trump won as president, 50.33% of registered voters in El Paso cast ballots, and the EPISD Bond passed.

We predict trying times for El Paso in the coming year.  Donald Trump has firm stands on immigrants and walls, both of which will have a large impact on our City.  Additionally, the citizens of El Paso just voted themselves a HUGE increase in property taxes.

“We’ve got a long way to go rebuilding trust,” Cabrera said. “This is a big step in the right direction.”  We disagree.  The rebuilding of trust should have happened BEFORE we gave EPISD the largest bond ever in El Paso County.  However, unlike the County Commissioner’s raises, we were given an opportunity to decide through our votes and the majority voted ‘yes’.

While EPISD is gleefully meeting this morning to start their plan to spend the money, we hope that they will be accountable.  We hope that they will be truthful and efficient.  The one thing they now no longer need to be is frugal.

Below is how the different parts of town voted on the bond:

episd-bond-final2

To see full election results, click here.

A Letter From A Follower Regarding the EPISD Bond

From one of our followers regarding the EPISD Bond:

As an educator in the El Paso Independent School District, I acknowledge the need to address the long-neglected condition of our schools, and the need to add facilities to accommodate for students enrolled in Fine Arts and athletic programs.
However, the notion that buildings and technology are answers to improve educational outcomes dismisses the role of educators. Technology does not provide the necessary encouragement to a student who comes from a home whose parent has to work two jobs to make ends meet. A new building does not provide inspiration to a student who goes to bed hungry. The closure of neighborhood schools dismisses the concepts of child behavior development, and the sense of community. Pedagogical considerations are a forgone conclusion.
The vilification of our education system is a strategy utilized by special interest groups to de-fund public education, promote test-centered curriculum, and further widen the economic gap between the wealthy and poor.
Realizing that early voting is scheduled to start on October 24, it is necessary to provide the following information that may assist in determining whether to support or oppose the $668.7 million EPISD Bond.
The following links provide insight to some private interests that have funded the El Paso Rising political action committee, that may profit from the passage of the bond, whether through construction or financial consulting services:
A significant contributor to the El Paso Rising political action committee is Dee Margo. He is a former Texas State Representative whose legislative record includes the cutting of the Texas education budget to the tune of $5.4 billion in 2011. He then later served as a member of the EPISD Board of Managers, of whom initially authorized the Jacobs Engineering study, currently used to close and consolidate schools included in this EPISD bond.
The campaign finance reports, include folks who have contributed significant amounts of money to Texans for Education Reform, an organization seeking to dismantle public education, through the promotion of vouchers and charter schools.
A prevalent concern expressed in our community is the issue of trust. A way to restore it, would be the commitment by district officials to re-locate administrative operations to one of the schools proposed for closure, or to the portable classrooms in which our students are currently housed. Given the City of El Paso’s non-renewal of the lease for the administrative offices on Boeing, this would certainly be a tangible action. 
Please consider the education of our children and authentically engage in advocacy efforts.
Best Regards,

EPISD – What Percentage of Your Property Taxes Do They Currently Get?

If you were to guess the percentage of your property taxes that go to EPISD, what would you guess?  10%? 20%? Given that EPISD is asking for a $669 million dollars, it might be reasonable to guess that the El Paso School District receives a relatively small percentage. For 2015 44.55% of your property taxes went to EPISD:

Taxing Unit 2015 Tax Rate % of Tax Rate Source
City of El Paso 0.729725 26.33%  Click Here
EPISD 1.235 44.55%  Click Here
County of El Paso 0.452694 16.33%  Click Here
EPCC 0.133811 4.83%  Click Here
UMC 0.220682 7.96%  Click Here
Total 2.771912 100.00%

If the bond gets passed (including the other tax increases already approved), that number jumps to 47.31% once all of the bonds have been issued.  So, almost 50% of your property taxes will be paid to EPISD:

Taxing Unit 2016 Tax Rate % of Tax Rate
City of El Paso 0.759656 25.31%
EPISD 1.42 47.31%
County of El Paso 0.452694 15.08%
EPCC 0.134909 4.49%
UMC 0.234456 7.81%
Total 3.001715 100.00%

EPISD projects that they will get $169,337,789 from property taxes for the 2016-2017 school year WITHOUT THE BOND.  Adding in other Local Revenues, State Revenues and Federal Revenues, they project that they will have $497,673,310 for the 2016 – 2017 school year.  What we can’t understand is this:  what is happening with the money that they get now?  Why has EPISD decided to put their hands out for more money from you rather than showing us that they’ve made any efforts to cut costs or be more efficient?

We’ve been told that EPISD needs such a large bond because they are “playing catch up”:  “A district of this size with aging buildings needs to have a bond every five to seven years,” EPISD Superintendent Juan Cabrera said after the meeting. “I think we’re playing catch-up.”  Does this mean that they’ll have their hands out again in another 5-7 years, before they’ve finished with this bond?

You can look at your own tax bill here: https://actweb.acttax.com/act_webdev/elpaso/showlist.jsp

 

Either The EPISD Or The El Paso Times Fails At Math

An eagle-eyed reader pointed out a discrepancy in the El Paso Times Article “EPISD sends $668.7 million bond to ballot“.  In the article they state the following about the increase in Property Taxes if the EPISD bond passes:

“If voters pass the EPISD measure on Nov. 8, the property tax rate would rise by 18.8 cents to $1.42 per $100 property valuation. Taxpayers with a $138,000 home, the average in the district, would pay an additional $213 annually.”

See the problem?

$138,000/$100 = 1380 (this is to calculate per $100 valuation)

1380 x $1.42 = $1,959.60 (this is how much the property taxes would go up by, not $213)

Even if you adjust it to be 18.8 cents to $1.42 per $1000, the math STILL doesn’t make sense!  In that case, the $138,000 home would be paying an extra $195.96 per year.

We suspect that there is a typo and that it should be per $1000 property valuation.  However, we have NO IDEA how they got to their final number of $213 annually. If these numbers came from the EPISD, quake in fear as they try to manage over 1/2 billion in bond money.