What Will Happen If EPISD Closes Bowie And Jefferson High Schools? An Open Letter To EPISD And Parents
An email that was leaked to KFOX14 this week outlining the possibility of closing some schools in the El Paso Independant School District, and consolidating Bowie and Jefferson high schools, has a lot of people up in arms. Once again, we see how poorly situations are handled at the district, and once again, parents are up in arms about schools closing. It’s probably inevitable that some schools will close because of budget cuts, and parents are just going to have to get over that. And it’s inevitable that EPISD will be under fire from those parents. They should use this opportunity to better communicate with the taxpayers they serve. Here’s how both can do that.
EPISD started this whole mess when their spokeswoman didn’t pay close enough attention to whom she was emailing. Lesson learned? Never hit send on “brainstorming” emails that outline consolidating two of the City’s most iconic high schools that you don’t want leaked to the media without making sure a media outlet email isn’t on the address line. Superintendent Juan Cabrera and Board of Managers President Dee Margo put KFOX14 on blast for reporting the email after Cabrera backed out of a promised interview with KFOX14 after the email leaked and the station held it for 24 hours at the district’s request. Lesson learned? Man up the next time one of your staff makes a mistake like that and keep your promise. Don’t blast the media for mistakes your staff made. Explain to the public that you have to stay within your budget, and that might mean tough changes. Don’t hack taxpayers off by acting like you don’t have to speak to us, especially when we sign your paycheck with our property taxes.
Parents who are jumping on this situation and saying that schools should never be closed, get real. If your budget doesn’t allow for cable, you get rid of the cable. If you can’t pay your phone bill, your either get rid of it, or it gets turned off. The point is, the district can either raise taxes to cover costs at schools with declining enrollment, or they can make tough cuts to prevent having to raise taxes to keep those doors open. There is no other choice. Personally, I don’t want my taxes to go up. I know Bowie and Jeff have long traditions, and I would be sorry to see them go, but I don’t think anyone can justify raising taxes to keep them open.
The most important thing is, at this point, the ideas outlined in the email are just that, ideas. Maybe what we should be doing is going to school board meetings and asking questions, and making sure they get answered by district officials. The media and parents need to work together to do that. Hopefully, we will.