EPISD board approves new open enrollment policy

EL PASO, Texas - Major changes are coming to the El Paso Independent School District.

The board of managers adopted an open enrollment policy at its meeting Tuesday in an effort to curb the district's budget deficit.

Students from any part of town can now attend EPISD schools.

Each student is worth $5,500 a year in state funding.

"The way it's worded, it's going to open the door to students outside the El Paso district," Dr. Tom Miller, EPISD chief of staff. I know Ysleta has been doing it since the 90's."

Inner-city districts Yselta and El Paso are facing a student population that is steadily shrinking. Reasons include families moving to newer, less expensive housing in Cautillo and Socorro, Fort Bliss not bringing the expected number of new soldiers and their families, and foreign families feeling safe enough to move back to Juarez.

In the El Paso ISD, this has translated to a $17 million shortfall because 1,600 less students just this year means about $9 million lost in state funding, not to mention previous years.

"It will help the district, I know we'll get some additional students," Miller said. 

 Miller estimates a couple thousand student will come in mainly from EPISD's own employees who live out the district.

They're sure to bring in state dollars, but since they don't live in EPISD, their families won't be paying property taxes. That burden will fall on residents.

"We pay a lot of property taxes. Some of that goes to our school," said Coronado High Parent Mandy Jiminez. 

Jiminez tells ABC-7 she has mixed emotions about outside students coming in.
But what she may not realize, is this move could improve the quality of her kids education.

"It creates a little friendly competition in the community. And that is a good thing because it makes the school become better," Miller said.

The Yselta ISD also has an open enrollment policy, which means they are vying for students. Miller said the only way to attract those students is through programs and higher standards of learning.

"They could be a contribution to our school," Jiminez said. 

How will EPISD's tainted reputation factor in? Miller said with a new administrator, people will be looking to the future, forgetting about the past.

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