El Paso

EPISD staff recommends extending central office lease another 6 months

EL PASO, Texas - ​​​​​District staff is recommending the El Paso Independent School District extends its lease with the City at district headquarters by another six months. 

A few years ago, the City notified EPISD it wanted the land on Boeing Dr. back and staff would need to vacate by 2014. That same year, there was a change in EPISD's administration, with a new superintendent and new board of trustees. EPISD Spokeswoman Melissa Martinez said that's when they discovered the lease was expiring. 

"The previous board had not taken any action to move central office and to prepare for a move and so at that time it was determined with six months notice we needed to ask for an extension," Martinez said. 

At a facilities committee meeting Wednesday, ABC-7 learned the City asked the district to pay more than $400,000 annually for a lease extension, but EPISD negotiated the cost down to $286,000. The district extended the lease for a second time, at a cost of $303,000. Then a third time, at $309,000.  EPISD had originally been paying the City about $60,000 a month up until 2014.

The board has already approved the location for the new headquarters which will be on Stanton Street, but the district says it's taking longer than anticipated to close on the property, so staff is recommending they have additional time. Under the current lease, they need to be out by May 2019. Staff is recommending a 6 month extension to December 2019. 

Martinez said the expectation was the entire property would need to be vacated at once, but that has since changed. 

"There are two smaller portions at the back end of our land that have leases that are at a later time, even 10 years later then this mainland," Martinez said. "The expectation by the city though was that we would vacate the entire property by 2019. The city has since come back and said they don't need all of it all at once so they offered to give us a lease at that back end." 

Those portions of land include the EPISD bus hub and maintenance facilities. However, if the district were to keep those parcels of land temporarily past 2019 it would be costly. 

"Two (of our) main buildings and departments are within the area that the city needs, so it would mean re-drawing those boundaries of the lease agreement also requiring significant construction and expenses because those new boundaries would need to follow new city code," Martinez said. "So we would incur expenses if we would even keep those two small parcels for current use." 

That could end up costing EPISD around $600,000, staff said at Wednesday's meeting. They're recommending EPISD moves out of the entire property all at once, as originally planned. 

EPISD board of trustees will vote on whether to approve the recommendations at its next board meeting in a few weeks. 

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