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EPISD Suggests Layoffs Would Solve Budget Woes

Pink slips may greet some El Paso Independent School District employees when the school bell rings this school year.

EPISD officials confirmed to ABC-7 they are considering laying off employees to battle the district’s budget problems. District officials said the EPISD needs to trim $18 million dollars from the budget.

“I have yet to even see a budget,” former EPISD board trustee, Dan Wever, said. “So, I’m really interested in seeing where they are $18 million dollars short.”

Wever said the threat of employee cuts is just a scare tactic.

“I just have a feeling that they are kind of smarting from losing the election and now they’re striking back,” Wever said. “They don’t take being rejected very easily.”

EPISD public information officer Berenice Zubia confirmed the district has already frozen about 15 administrative positions. They said the freeze will save the district about $1 million dollars, but that figure is well below the amount needed to cover the district’s shortfall. Teachers and other campus employees are not in danger of being let go until after the 2010-’11 school year.

“Teachers and school-side people should be very last, the fact is they shouldn’t be touched,” Wever said.

David Rout, a teacher at Austin High School, said if the cuts do affect teachers, he hopes they don’t have a negative impact on students.

“Nobody wants to take anyone out of the classroom, but certainly if it’s gonna come to that it’s gotta come from somewhere that’s not gonna affect the education of the children in our charge,” Rout said.

Teacher cuts would likely mean crowded classrooms, but Rout said teachers would just have to adjust.

“If our jobs are just a little bit harder, teachers won’t like it, but we’ll get used to it,” Rout said.

Wever reccommended cutting administration jobs first.

“Start funding the schools first. Get everything that the school needs,” Wever said. “If there’s anything left over then they can pay the administration.”

Wever said the that since Superintendent Lorenzo Garcia took over in 2005, the cost of administration salaries has increased more than $3 million dollars.

“They have gone from 46 director level and up positions to 73 positions,” Wever said. “That’s a 97 percent increase in cost.”

Ultimately, the district’s board of trustees will have the final say.

“Nothing can happen without the board approval, but he only needs four votes,” Wever said.

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