EPISD budget cuts under fierce attack from faculty

The honeymoon for El Paso School District Superintendent Juan Cabrera may be over.

EPISD Budget Issues

EL PASO, Texas - The honeymoon for El Paso School District Superintendent Juan Cabrera may be over. At Tuesday's board meeting both he, his administration and the latest budget cuts, were under fierce attack. It was the faculty who came out in full force this speaking out against the lack of district transparency.

Franklin High science teacher Tom David spoke directly to the district amid a packed board room. His issue: a new policy starting next year that would force elective teachers to lose their planning period, and take on an extra class. Core subject teachers will lose half if their planning period, and be forced to act as teacher aids in other classrooms or attend meetings.

David said teachers use these periods for nearly 45 tasks, such as tutoring, grading papers and preparing lesson plans. The district said planning periods are being cut because it's moving from a block schedule, where teachers have a 90 minute planning period, to an eight period school day.

"So we just figured to go back the 45 minute conference period everyday that most teachers in the state enjoy," said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jim Steinhauser.

But Davis said the new policy only hurts EPISD teachers, which in turn, will affect the students' education

"And I'm very concerned that new administration isn't consulting experienced people who's been here for a long time before making these decisions because we have other cost saving ideas that do not affect the classroom directly," Davis said.

When ABC-7 asked the district about the lack of transparency, Steinhauser said "we've been talking to principals about that but there has been discussion about that, yes."

Another issue, 25 district facilitators, the people who train teachers, found out their jobs were obsolete on Friday without any notice. The districts said it made the decision to comply with new House Bill 5 requirements and save about $600,000.

These facilitators won't lose their jobs, they will be moved, to help Pre-K through 3rd grade students have a solid academic foundation before moving on to upper grades. It came as a shock, and many were offended.

"We respect you goals but we need to trust you and the administration as well," said Lucy Clarke, president of the El Paso Federation of Teachers. "And that was one of the charges given to you by the commissioner of education. To restore trust."

Cabrera has said the district will have substantially less state money coming in for this next school year, because of lower enrollment numbers, and budget cuts have to be made. 

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