Twelve million dollars -- that's how much the El Paso Independent School District is set to lose this coming school year.
Daily attendance is down. EPISD lost 1,600 students this year, which means they get $12 million less in state funding, and now the district is deciding how it's going to adjust.
One by one, EPISD department heads approached the Board of Managers, explaining how much money they'll need this school year. But money is tighter. The district's $480 million budget is taking a $12 million hit because it has less students, which translates to less state funding.
"Over 1600 less students," said EPISD Senior Resource Analyst Jose Lopez
Lopez attributes it to three events: losing Fort Bliss families, losing Mexican families who are going back home now that violence in Juarez is declining, and an aging population.
"And our largest decrease was at Coronado," Lopez said.
For the 2014-2015 school year, EPISD is projected to lose only 1000 students, and that's because of new construction on Fort Bliss. But the district said this is actually a reset.
EPISD's population spiked around 2010 when violence across the border pushed foreign families into El Paso. Now the district is getting back to normal, just above 60,000 students.
We basically have the rest of April, May and June to make some decisions.
Associate Superintendent Robert Almanzan says receiving less money doesn't mean the district can make cuts --
it's services, such as classroom education and building maintance, are fixed costs -- they have to be paid for.
But what the district can do is brainstorm ways to become more efficient and make each dollar count.
"Its not about budget reduction but its about how can you do something different to save in the long run," said Associate Superintendent Robert Almanzan.
At a budget committee meeting, managers talked about paying teachers to bring their own laptops. The district has decided to move from block scheduling to 45 minute periods. They also upped the high school classroom ration from 21-to-1 to 22. Officials have said combining smaller schools is on the table, although not this year.
But before anything is final, principals and teachers and parents are being asked for their input in the budget process.
"The lack of funds we have is a community wide issue, we want to hear from everybody," Almanzan.
Community meeting will be held at every high school starting April 10. Click here for a complete schedule.