EL PASO, Texas - In an unanimous vote the El Paso Independent School District board of trustees made a decision Tuesday night to close Beall, Schuster, Alta Vista and Burleson Elementary schools in the 2019-2020 school year.
El Paso's largest school district announced the proposal to close several schools back in June, citing declining attendance and revenue.
Since then, the school district hosted several meetings with parents at the schools that would be affected by the proposal: Beall, Burleson, Alta Vista, Douglass and Schuster elementary schools.
Of the two options the board considered, both included the closures of Alta Vista, Burleson and Schuster. The difference between the two options was whether the fourth elementary school to be closed for 2019-2020 was Beall or Douglass.
The district chose the first option, meaning Beall closes and its 348 students will join the 228 students currently at Douglass, which is only at 33 percent capacity. District officials said combining the two schools under this option would put Douglass at 81 percent capacity.
District officials said EPISD is facing a shrinking budget because student enrollment numbers are dropping. All schools that were considered for closure have fewer than 65 percent capacity rates, board president Trent Hatch said.
The district has questioned whether it is prudent to invest in old facilities with declining enrollment.
"We are investing in buildings instead of programs, instead of students," said Gustavo Reveles, a spokesman with the district, "We find ourselves in the position to where we think about closing some schools, right-sizing the school district in order to maximize the resources and be able to provide the quality services that our students deserve."
The current EPISD board consists of District 1 trustee Bob Geske, District 2 trustee Al Velarde, District 4 trustee Diane Dye, District 5 trustee Chuck Taylor, District 6 and board president Trustee Trent Hatch, and District 7 trustee Mickey Loweree.
Geske and Velarde represent the schools that could be closed. The District 3 seat is vacant after Susie Byrd resigned to take a job with the office of Congresswoman Veronica Escobar.