tsunami_episdAs you all know by now, El Paso’s largest school district is facing budget woes because of a decline in student enrollments. You also know that the trustees of the El Paso Independent School District were disbanded and a board of managers were installed because of the cheating scandal led by Lorenzo Garcia.

The school district is facing a $12 million deficit. As a response, the board of managers have eliminated 131 teacher positions and are looking at other ways to reduce the budget. For many years, the school district has been criticized for balancing the budgets through teacher realignments while remaining administratively top-heavy. These latest job displacements do nothing to dispel the criticism about the organization’s administrative heaviness.

The board of managers are expected to meet today at 5:00pm. Xavier Miranda, organizer of the El Paso Grassroots, is calling for demonstrations by teachers, parents and students supporting “public education” according to the information they released over the weekend. They are also expected to speak at the meeting.

I do not know enough about the budget issues facing EPISD to properly comment on them. However, everyone should note two issues related to the budget woes.

The first is that the board of managers have stated that the former district financial director overestimated future enrollment numbers and when those did not materialize he covered up the resulting budget shortfalls by moving monies around in the district’s budget as the numbers came in.

My first question would be, has this situation been rectified and has the former financial executive been held accountable for his actions? The second issue is that student enrollment numbers are declining in significant numbers.

Although it has been insinuated that the decline is a result of violence diminishing in Cd. Juárez the significant numbers simply cannot be accounted for by students returning to Juárez. As always, Cd. Juárez is the public scapegoat.

The diminishing enrollments may signify a serious problem in the works for the city. Although Ft. Bliss realignments may account for some of the diminishing numbers, they also cannot account for the significant decreases. Therefore, the question becomes are the diminishing enrollments numbers due to parents taking out their children from the scandal-plagued school district, or are they a reflection of an economically distressed city?

Remember that the foreclosures for February increased significantly. Could these numbers be a prelude to serious economic woes trickling down throughout the city?

When the largest school district in the city is reporting student enrollments going down necessitating significant reductions in staffing the “trickle-down” effect are job losses leading to more foreclosures and a larger unemployment figure in the city. The trickledown effect does not remain within the teachers groups because it spreads out through the supporting vendor services and service industries such as restaurants that depend on the school district viability for their economies.

Keep an eye on this issue, as this could be the vanguard of the economic tsunami I’ve been predicting for El Paso as a result of the public agenda policies that have been implemented the last few years.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “Are EPISD Budget Woes the Vanguard to an Economic Tsunami?”

  1. I’m not convinced that enrollment declines are an economic indicator. The real tsunami headed toward EPISD will be the lawsuits for what Garcia did to students. This will be on a par with the Catholic church sex scandals and the remuneration to its victims. Why do you think they hired a lawyer rather than an educator?

  2. One could look at any (larger than yearly norms) student increases in the other school districts. That might provide some insight, however I do not believe it will tell the whole story.

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