El Paso ISD leaders asking for more time to consider school closures
El Paso's largest school district is holding a special meeting to discuss the possibility of closing some of its schools.
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the El Paso Independent School District's headquarters.
The agenda item states the discussion is happening to determine if there is a need to "right-size" the school district.
According to EPISD, data trends indicate its district is experiencing a drop in student enrollment.
The district reports that several of its schools have had a declining enrollment over the last five years, which is contributing to the need for closures.
"Closures has been a discussion for many years. This board is at a point where we have to financially stabilize our district not for the next year, not for two, not for three, for a decade," Trent Hatch, board president, said.
The closure of some school campuses will aid the district in counteracting the effects of declining enrollment, finding programmatic efficiencies and right-sizing the district, according to the agenda item posted on the district's website.
Trustees were presented with two options.
Option one listed 10 schools that are already slated to close for consolidation, which was approved by voters in the 2016 bond; Lincoln MS/Bond ES/Roberts ES, Morehead MS/Johnson ES.
MacArthur MS/Bonham ES, Hughey ES/ Ross MS, Henderson MS/ Clardy ES, Bradley ES/ Fannin ES. Terrace Hills MS/ Collins ES and Dowell ES/Schuster ES/ Crosby ES.
Option one lists Burnet Elementary School closing if it is approved in the 2018/2019 school year.
In the 2019/2020 school year, it was recommended that Beall, Burleson and Alta Vista elementary schools close. The three schools would be consolidated with neighboring elementary campuses.
Parents who spoke during the special board meeting said Beall Elementary School serves a low-income community that otherwise would have trouble getting to their kids' campus.
"I think it would divide our community. Like I said, its central location places it in the heart of the Chamizal," Cemelli de Aztlan, a parent at Beall Elementary, said.
The second option trustees looked at were similar to the first with the exception of Beall closing and instead, Douglass Elementary School was recommended to close in the 2019/2020 school year.
Parents at Alta Vista said they're worried their school is listed in both options the board is considering.
"I know my kids love this school a lot," Stevens Maglorie, a parent at Alta Vista, said. "This school is pretty good. It's teaching my kids pretty well. The teachers work well with my kids."
EPISD said each closure can save the district about $1 million in operational costs.
The board is asking for more time in making a decision. Originally, they were slated to decide on the matter later this month. Now, members are asking for the chance to speak more closely with school communities that could be impacted by the decision.