Students in the El Paso Independent School District are now, more than ever, ready to tackle the ever-changing global economy thanks to the innovative programs that give them the choice to custom tailor their education from the moment they set foot in one of our campuses.
Thanks to a multi-pronged approach to the modernization of EPISD, our schools are better equipped to provide high-quality teaching and learning. Gone are the days of classrooms filled with rows of desks where students were expected to sit still and memorize lessons imparted by teachers.
Instead, thanks in large part to the support of the voters in the District who approved Bond 2016, our campuses are beginning to see a robust update of facilities that includes modern classrooms, up-to-date facilities and state-of-the-art equipment.
Of course, none of this is possible without creating sustainability for our changing demographics.
Enrollment at EPISD has declined steadily for many years due in large part to suburban sprawl, aging neighborhoods and low birth rates within the region. The economic impact that the loss of thousands of students per year can have is tremendous, and the Board of Trustees has been proactive in their approach to coping with this trend.
For years, the District has created administrative savings in efforts to offset millions of dollars in state revenue losses. Today, EPISD has one of the lowest administrative cost ratios in the state.
However, the continued decrease in student enrollment (next year alone we expect about 1,800 fewer students and at least $7 million less in state funding) has forced the District to make drastic changes.
In January, the Board voted on the latest round of rightsizing initiatives that meant the closure of Alta Vista, Beall and Burleson elementary schools, as well as the early consolidation of Schuster Elementary with Dowell Elementary. The closures are effective at the start of the 2019-20 school year.
These decisions were among the most difficult the District has had to make. But they were necessary in order to secure the financial wellbeing of EPISD and continue our efforts to invest in student programing rather than building maintenance.
EPISD will work with the students and parents at Alta Vista, Beall, Burleson and Schuster as they transition to their new home schools. It is our top priority to make sure these students and their families have a safe and effective move.
We understand that the decision to close schools is of great impact, but we also know that this decision will keep moving our students – including those affected by the closures – in the right direction.
The District already has some experience in these transitions. At the end of the 2017-18 school year, EPISD closed Burnet Elementary and successfully transitioned students to nearby schools.
EPISD will continue to work on rightsizing efforts and expects to consolidate or right-size a total of 14 schools in that period in order to divert funds from building maintenance to student and employee programming.
We ask that the community rally behind us as we move toward a sustainability plan that will benefit both our students and our community as a whole.