After nearly a month of early voting, community presentations and ‘get out the vote’ programs, El Paso ISD officials celebrated the approval of their ‘Penny Swap’ Election Saturday night.
Out of the 160,000 plus voters eligible to participate in the election, only 8,793 residents hit the polls – a turnout of just under 5.5%
None-the-less, EPISD officials will now be able to swap a total of three cents from paying off the district’s debt, to day-to-day operations. With the approval, EPISD will also have access to the so-called “Golden Pennies” from Austin, which yield a greater match in funding from the state.
That additional funding could be as much as $9 million, according to EPISD officials.
Additionally, with the approval, the district’s overall tax rate for the 2015-16 will stay at $1.235 — the same rate as in the past 8 years.
According to information provided by EPISD, the extra monies may already be earmarked, and teachers could be the first to see the benefit.
Officials say both teacher retention and salaries will be addressed.
With the district having one of the lowest starting salaries in the region for new teachers, the approval of the Penny Swap provides funds to give teachers a 2.5% salary increase and hourly staff a 3% raise.
An investment in EPISD’s aging transportation fleet is expected, as the district says fully 1/3 of their buses are beyond their 20 year operational life.
Additionally the money would go to the expansion of science labs and career and technical education programs, as well as investments in athletics, with special focus on middle-school sports; and the launch of the district’s EPISD Power Up and New Tech High Schools.
From the Summer Enrichment Program, which provides summertime workshops and training to more than 10,000 students, to the replacement of fine arts equipment and instruments that are now past their average life span.
District libraries will also see new funding, providing for the expansion of library digital media collections.
To review the election results, as well as to see an area by area breakdown of the vote, click HERE