Today I am going to share with you a simple idea for the EPISD building woes and tax needs. It is a simple idea that would save the taxpayers money and it makes sense. The problem, though, is that it will fall on deaf ears because whether it is the unelected board or any other elected board making the decisions – it doesn’t matter because the decisions they make are not about what’s good for the community but rather what’s good for them. That is the underlining problem with El Paso.
However, I’m constantly accused of attacking politicians and not offering solutions. So, here goes, my simple solution to two problems facing the El Paso Independent School District right now.
EPISD has told you that it needs to close down schools because of dwindling student enrollments. EPISD has also told you that it needs to relocate its administrative building because the City, another tax-supported entity, has told it that it cannot continue to lease the location any more. (Am I the only one that sees a problem with one taxing entity charging another for using what the taxpayers bought?) Both issues have already cost the taxpayers millions just to get to the point that both items need to be done. How tax supported entities see no problem in paying millions for reports that tells them what everyone already knows is beyond me, but I digress.
Jacob’s Engineering Group was paid about $1 million to the come to the conclusion that eight elementary schools need to be closed and a few middle schools consolidated as result of fewer students projected for the district. As a response, the unelected school board, in their infinite wisdom, told you that it needs to spend almost a billion dollars to close the schools down and update others.
Earlier this month, the unelected board also approved a $1.4 million contract that it awarded to MNK Architects, Inc. to begin preparing plans to move the current EPISD central office building from Hawkins over to the Northeast.
Keep in mind that the money, the unelected board, has allocated is only for planning the move. It does not include the money that would be required to build its new palace. Yes, you read that right, palace, because that is what this whole expenditure is all about.
The school district is planning to spend almost a billion dollars to close down schools at the same time it is planning to spend to build a new administrative building. Yes, I know what the unelected board is already saying about using the schools they will be shut down as office space. However, let’s take a closer look at this.
The schools are being shut down because of dwindling student enrollments. Fewer students will result in fewer teachers. Therefore, in a real world environment, fewer teachers will also result in fewer administrators and support staff. Any of the schools have multiple rooms, as in previous classrooms, enough bathrooms for a bloated administrative staff and definitely enough parking for everyone.
Yes, yes, I know, but there isn’t enough room for housing everyone in one building because we wouldn’t dare fire administrators. There are eight schools being slated for closure. I know, I know, we cannot have administrators spread out all over town, it is inefficient.
I have to digress a little again. Here’s a little secret the politicians don’t want you talking about; the administrators are the people that vote in the elections and therefore they get their pie and are allowed to eat it, as well. Now you know why so little voters vote on election night and why the politicians dream up these palaces. Because the voters are the same people feeding at the public trough you so willingly fill each year.
Yet, another inconvenient fact that the EPISD politicians would love for you to ignore – EPISD has been on the forefront of connecting people to the Internet. I know I was involved in some of the planning stages. Everywhere you read, about business trends, you will notice that the trend is to decentralize, reduce travel and communicate via telepresence and via the Internet. In the real world, you don’t build huge business complexes anymore. Instead, you reduce costs by keeping everyone in smaller locations and use the Internet to get business done. Decentralization is the future, just ask anyone that has been outsourced recently.
One school can be used for one set of administrators, another for another set of administrators and you still have buildings left for special instruction projects and even for maintenance depots and storage areas. All it takes is a little foresight and willingness to do what is right. Oh, and if enrollment goes up again you already have the school building in place, refurbished to boot.
Instead, what you are witnessing is slobbering architectural companies, engineering firms and general contractors, not to mention the lawyers, just waiting to feed at the public trough. I did remind you recently that these same types of firms were central to the public corruption cases recently concluded; right?
In El Paso, you can’t have these types of firms go too long without the gravy train of the publics’ money, and thus you are witnessing the slobbering pigs waiting for the piece.
There, right there is the reason that my simple idea will never be taken seriously because it does not feed those waiting for the feeding frenzy to begin.