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No new high school for Northeast El Paso
By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso Independent School District's plans to build a new high school in Northeast El Paso were scrapped, at least for now.
Almost $60 million from a 2007 bond election that was set aside for a new northeast high school will likely be used for something else.
"It's a rip off. If they allocated it, they ought to build the school. You know money was taken from the people to build a school, if they decide not to build it it's just wrong," said Jeffery Dorchester.
The bond advisory committee and the board of managers said the plan was scrapped because the area isn't seeing the type of growth that was expected. The district had factored in a development by the Hunt Corporation that didn't end up happening as part of the need for a new school.
Now seven years later, the data doesn't show the need.
"There's no need for an additional school. As a matter of fact, part of the information we were provided with from the administration showed the next five, six, seven years, and even when you look at that, Andress and Irvin will still be below capacity," said Al Patino, member of the Chair Bond Accountability Committee.
Board of Managers President Dee Margo said, "We have access capacity, there's not a real need right now."
Still some people in the northeast don't see it that way.
"The people voted for it because they see a need for it, the education is important, quality facilities are important, we have phenomenal growth in this area, so what's the deal? It's what the people want, it's what we should have," said Sally Pierce.
The board of managers is planning to use the millions on other projects.
"It's a matter of prioritizing and reorganizing where those needs are," said Margo.
Margo said the district has a massive need of funds for improvement. The district has 94 campuses with an average age of 56 years.
Margo said the money could go to repairs and rehabilitation at schools district wide -- including multipurpose classrooms district wide, and improvements for Irvin, Andress and Chapin high schools.
"We're doing things in repair for air conditioning systems, heating, HVAC-type systems, things that improve the environment for our kids to live in and that's a priority," said Margo.
According to the plans, Irvin could receive around $8 million for renovations, including a 12-classroom addition, TSTEM and renovations to its theater. Irvin would also get around $17 million to update its HVAC system.
Around $10 million would go to Andress for its Fine Arts department, including its classroom and theater and about $6 million for a 12-classroom addition and field house for Chapin.
The item is up for approval at Tuesday night's board meeting. Margo said he expects it to be approved.
Margo said it's possible in the future there will be a bond issue for a new high school in the northeast when the need is there.