EPISD postpones vote on school closures

District identified 'cost-saving measures'

EPISD Meeting closure

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Independent School District Board is postponing Thursday night's discussion and vote on proposed campus closures.

The school district stated in a news release Thursday morning that Superintendent Juan Cabrera requested the postponement of the vote because it was determined that a near-balanced budget could be presented for approval to trustees at their meeting. 

Board President Trent Hatch was quoted in the news release as saying the postponement will give the district more time to prepare for a potential closure of schools in the near future, adding, "I am grateful that administration, working with our teacher associations, identified cost-saving measures to get us closer to a balanced budget," Hatch said.

Those cost-saving measures were not explained in the news release.

Just this month, the EPISD board announced that 10 schools would need to be closed in order to reduce costs and help the district overcome a $7 million dollar deficit which is due to declining enrollment.

Trustees were set to discuss closing Beall, Schuster, and Moye elementary schools between now and mid-August and Hawkins, Rusk, Alta Vista and Rivera elementary schools at the end of next school year. Bonham, Johnson and Roberts were mentioned in the original proposal, but were not mentioned on the original agenda item. 

"Over the last few weeks, we have heard from the community regarding school closures and we want them to know that we take their input seriously," Hatch was quoted as saying in the news release. "However, we are still committed to right-sizing the district because we want to invest in our students and teachers and secure the financial well-being of EPISD."

'Right-sizing' the district involved shrinking the number of schools and shifting students to other campuses. Moye, one of the schools that was originally proposed to shut down before the start of the 2018-2019 school year, is relatively new. The school opened in 2005 and was built to accommodate approximately 922 students. But a school official told ABC-7 that in 2017-2018, the student population hovered around 500, meaning the school was only at 53 percent capacity.

Julie Porflit, the Moye librarian and the EPISD Teacher of the Year, reached out to ABC-7 with her concerns about the possibility that the school is considered for closure.

"We're in a brand new building, so it accommodates 21st century learning. We've got the technology, we've got the WiFi, even the outlets compared to our neighboring schools," Julie Porflit, a librarian in her third year at the school, said. "That puts our children that have been in this environment at a disadvantage whenever they go into a campus that's not equipped for the 21st century learner."

Administration will continue drafting plans for the possible transitioning of students and staff upon approval of school closures by the board, and plan to hold more community meetings, according to district officials.

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