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Helene Solomon: Teacher to vote no on EPISD irresponsibility
June 12, 2010

I am a teacher, parent and a taxpayer in the El Paso Independent School District and I will be voting "no" in the upcoming Tax Ratification Election.

I cannot trust an incumbent school board and a superintendent that have shown irresponsible fiscal leadership for the past years to have another $37 million , even if it is "only" $10.83 per month per $100,000 of property value.

Written by Helene Solomon, The El Paso Times

I am a teacher, parent and a taxpayer in the El Paso Independent School District and I will be voting "no" in the upcoming Tax Ratification Election.

I cannot trust an incumbent school board and a superintendent that have shown irresponsible fiscal leadership for the past years to have another $37 million , even if it is "only" $10.83 per month per $100,000 of property value.

In the past month, I have attended three TRE meetings trying to get the facts as to where money has been spent in EPISD and where the $37 million will go to improve education in the future.

I learned that TAKS scores have gone up. We all know that test scores will go up when you teach to a test.

I learned that 24 percent of the revenue will go to campus-based professionals, which I assume are administrators as well as teachers.

And finally, I learned that there is no "fat" in the central office.

Student enrollment in EPISD has decreased by 663 students since 2005-2006 when Dr. Lorenzo García became the superintendent of the district.

In 2005, there were three associate superintendents in the school district; now there are nine. Forty-seven people held directors' positions or above; now there are 73.

All administrators in the district went from a 10-step salary schedule to a 20-step salary schedule in two years. Many administrators are now earning a great deal of money due to the 20-step salary schedule.

Three administrators in central office earned over $100,000 in 2005. Now 17 do.

The superintendent has had a $65,000 salary increase in the past three years.

The newly appointed office of chief of staff has had a $46,000 pay increase.

The chief of police has more than doubled his salary with a $30,000 pay increase in 2007-2008.

Principals have received pay increases that range from $4,000 to $18,000 in one year. The average salary of teachers in 2008-2009 was $48,324 (up 22 percent from $39,000 in 2004-2005).

The average salary of central office administrators was $104,741 (up 49 percent from $70,521 in 2004-2005).

The differential between averages of teachers and central office administrators has increased from $31,015 in 2004-2005 to $56,417 in 2008.

Many programs have been purchased by the district at a cost of millions of dollars. Infinity Resources and Associated provided an 18-day staff development program for elementary math coaches in 2006 at a cost of $360,000 to taxpayers.

The reading 180 program cost our district more than $800,000 and still does not work because of the lack of compatible computers.

Consider the ex-associate superintendent who worked for the district as a consultant to deal with the future of three elementary schools. Wasn't there one director or assistant/associate superintendent out of the 73 who could have dealt with that issue?

In 2008-09, $7 million was budgeted for curriculum/staff development. Twenty-five million (total of all funds) was spent. That averages out to $5,700 of professional staff development or curriculum for each of the 4,400 teachers.

Ask any teacher if they have had $5,700 worth of professional growth last year.

I challenge every EPISD taxpayer to call, write or e-mail your school-board member. Get the facts from them. They voted for huge salary increases and useless programs.

I am not interested in percentages, but dollar facts down to the last penny of where the $37 million will go. I work hard for my money and no longer wish to spend it on future bad decisions.

I am a teacher, parent, and taxpayer and I will vote "no" on Tuesday.

Helene Solomon is a teacher in the El Paso Independent School District.

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