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Saturday, December 20, 2014 - 8:24pm

EPISD responds to rumors of closing and consolidating schools

Friday, February 21, 2014 - 10:42pm

At a press conference on Friday, El Paso Independent School District Superintendent Juan Cabrera responded to rumors that the district is closing several area schools and combining two of the biggest rival schools, Jefferson and Bowie, into one.

It all began after an EPISD employee accidentally sent an email about possible cost-cutting measures to a local news station on Thursday.

"None of those ideas might of ever made it outside of our internal discussions. They simply were brain-storming sessions. I couldn't even tell you which of those have any real validity because we've done no background," said Cabrera.

Cabrera later told NewsChannel 9 the notes in the email were just ideas written down on a napkin over lunch during a brain-storming session, and were not concrete plans.

On Friday, Cabrera said the real story is how EPISD is dealing with major cuts to its budget.

The state of Texas is cutting $9 million from EPISD's budget because district enrollment has dropped.

Enrollment has declined the last 25 years, but EPISD square footage has grown by 3.7 million square feet.

"It's when you add to the growth but don't close schools that are diminishing in size, that you end up with too much square footage," said Cabrera.

Cabrera said the district is trying to come up with ways to save money as a result of the cuts.

Some of these ideas include changing middle school schedules from "block" to a "traditional" schedule, and cutting second prep period for non-core teachers.

EPISD says their lease with the city for district headquarters is also about to expire and so EPISD is looking at other areas like the northeast and downtown El Paso, where it's affordable for them to set up instead.

On Friday, Cabrera said EPISD is not currently planning on cutting jobs, closing, or consolidating schools to save money.

"Our goal had been and it didn't work out that way, is to vet every option we could, and then eventually come to the community with what we thought may be viable options and then whittle those down," he said.

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