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Socorro AFT raises concerns over SISD asking state to take over district operations

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The President of Socorro's American Federation of Teachers said she's extremely concerned, because the Socorro Independent School District is asking the state to take over the district's operations.

SISD's Board of Trustees voted to accept the appointment of a Texas Education Agency conservator, or conservator team.

That means the TEA will be overseeing the district's budget and other operations.

This comes as SISD -- El Paso's second-largest school district, with an enrollment of 48,000 students -- has faced scrutiny for announcing a more than $30 million budget deficit in January.

The budget deficit may lead to cuts on incentives, like employee pay and benefits.

SISD said there have been numerous reports to the TEA and investigations, which have also brought scrutiny to the district. It has also been investigated by the state for testing discrepancies.

The president of Socorro AFT expressed extreme concerns over the announcement of the state taking over operations.

“I was very surprised. Devastated, more than anything... that we have fallen into such a position where we’re having to have TEA come in and oversee,” said Socorro AFT President Veronica Hernandez.

Hernandez said this was not expected.

“How we got here is just appalling to me. You know, with... the change of leadership, including the superintendent," she said. “The lack of transparency that’s going on, the lack of communication to our staff and families on how this is going to impact them. The lack of transparency from, even from the district, the financial officer, and the superintendent — not to provide, you know, this information to really address how we got to this deficit.”

Questions still remain as to how that happened. SISD Board of Trustees President, Michael Najera, said in a statement"

“It is no secret that the district has been facing challenges and we want to do everything we can to remove any skepticism in the leadership of our district administrators and our governance as board trustees of the school district... Our aim is to eradicate any doubts in our school district so that we can bring closure to the tribulations that have been impacting the district and continue to move our district forward, because the fact is despite these challenges our students, teachers and district are achieving great levels of success.”

Hernandez said she does not believe the TEA stepping in will help.

“Several of our employees have come and voiced their concerns at board meetings, at union meetings, to the school board members. You know, expressing their concerns about going to a less favorable insurance than what they’ve got. So that itself, I mean, yeah, it might save us, and help us with a deficiency that we have, but at what cost? You know, are we going to lose our employees to other districts because of that?” she said.

ABC-7 reached out to SISD for additional comment. We will update you on air and online with any developments.

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Kerry Mannix


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