Staff Report December 17, 2018NewsComments Off on El Paso ISD to Gather Input on School Closure Plans; Announces January Meetings
Parents and community members who wish to provide input on the proposed closure of schools being considered by the EPISD Board of Trustees can log on and have their voice heard.
Using EPISD’s Let’s Talk customer-service portal, the District has developed a site where participants can learn more about the District’s Rightsizing for the Future initiative and give their concerns and opinions. The website can be accessed by clicking here.
While on the website, participants can review presentations, read frequently asked questions and provide input that will be relayed to the EPISD Board of Trustees in anticipation of the discussion on school closures scheduled for January.
The Board is considering two options on the potential closure of three schools and early consolidation of Schuster Elementary School, which already had been slated for a merger with Dowell and Crosby elementary schools as part of the Bond 2016 program.
According to EPISD officials, “Rightsizing would create fiscal sustainability in EPISD and streamline the number of campuses the District operates.”
Option 1 of the plan calls for the closure of Alta Vista, Beall and Burleson elementary schools, and the early consolidation of Schuster. Option 2 would close Alta Vista, Douglass and Burleson, and also include the early consolidation of Schuster.
The District also has scheduled a series of in-person community meetings at potentially-impacted campuses to discuss the proposed rightsizing plans.
The meetings are scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on the following dates and locations:
• Jan. 9: Alta Vista, 1000 N. Grama St.; and Beall, 320. S. Piedras St.
• Jan. 10: Burleson, 4400 Blanco Ave.; and Schuster, 5505 Will Ruth Ave.
It was our family’s second year at the projects in a central El Paso neighborhood known as El Diablo; just a stone’s throw from the Coliseum, I was too young to know about my barrio’s reputation.
We lived at 405 Webber Way, apt 130, a block south from Paisano Drive. I had started second grade at Burleson Elementary, a short walk only four blocks away.
Our teacher, Mrs. Barbara Medlock, was a jet-black brunette with Bette Davis eyes and a happy smile. The girls adored her the moment she glided into the room that first day. At first glance I thought she was gonna be strict, but I was way wrong. She was fair to everyone in class.
That first day after I got home from school mom asked, “What do you think of your teacher?” I shrugged my shoulders, “She has big eyes and smells like perfume”.
It was still the early part of the year and Mrs.Medlock had divided the class into three reading groups: The Bluebirds, the Yellowbirds and the Redbirds. We weren’t asked which one we wanted to be in. I ended up in my least favorite, the Redbirds.
I couldn’t believe it. No way could I tell anyone at home about it – my older sisters would disown me.
You see, Gloria and Vicky attended Bowie High School, one of the oldest institutions in El Paso and the pride of hundreds of families. My sisters were very proud of the school and its blue and white colors.
They never missed a pep rally or football game and were always involved in extra-curricular activities. My sisters’ room was decorated with Bowie’s stickers and pennant flags. Even their curtains were blue.
The colors influenced me significantly. Their book covers displayed the bear mascot and on weekends my sisters dressed in white buttoned cotton blouses, blue capri jeans and white sneakers.
Bowie’s crosstown rivals were the Jefferson Foxes and their colors are … red and white. Hence my gripe about being placed in the Redbird reading group.
So what was I doing in the Redbirds group? My sisters would be so ashamed if they knew. I felt like a fox in a bear trap. “Oh teacher…..I want out” I wanted to say. After a couple weeks of passing the reading tests, I made the Yellowbird group. I felt a little better. We sat in a circle and as I looked over my fellow birds my mind and focus jumped to attention when Mrs. Medlock joined us.
One morning it was Irma’s turn to read aloud. A pleasantly-plump girl, Irma had curly black hair that she wore back above her forehead. On class picture day – her eyes were closed.
So Irma started reading and, whoa … you’d think it was a speed-reading contest. She never took a breath and the words sounded like a recording on fast forward. My heart was racing just listening to her. I’m surprised smoke wasn’t coming out of her ears. I needed a drink of water after that. Our teacher waited patiently until Irma ended finished.
Mrs. Medlock addressed her in a very caring tone, and reminded all of us to pause after periods and take time pronouncing the words. Irma looked down with a half smile. Nerves, I guess.
Back in the classroom, Mrs. Medlock continued her encouragement.
She waved and gestured as she read to us, turned to make eye contact with everyone as she wrote on the blackboard and did it all with great conviction and charm. I was picking up on her teaching methods, nailing the tests as they came.
Others were too. Some rockets were flying ahead … leaving the others behind as they scattered forward across space.
Ahead of the rest were two spaceships, neck and neck, passing planets and stars past the midpoint of the race, edging closer to the finish line. It was the quiet Maria and me.
I guess many of us were quiet then….lets call her Maria Smarty-Pants.
I was confident and feeling pretty good about what had become a tight race. One morning, our teacher made an announcement, “Class, we seem to have the makings of a close race”, and we all smiled at how this game had developed.
She continued ”How many think Maria is going to win?” All the girls screamed loudly.
She waited for the miniature hysterics to die down. “How many think Jose is going to win?” The boys tried to yell as loud. Some looked over at me and all I could do was smile.
A buddy got up from his desk, walked over and patted me on the shoulder “You’re gonna win, Jose”, and more hollering came from the boys.
Mrs. Medlock smiled at everyone’s enthusiasm, “Okay. This Friday is the last test, so we’ll soon find out!” This time the class gave a unified cheer. Our very bright and crafty teacher had created a jubilant learning atmosphere. She had single-handedly inspired us to compete positively. I was really impressed.
The following Monday morning came and a bunch of kids had gathered at the bulletin board. I walked in and took my seat. Maria was being congratulated by the girls. A couple friends came over and said “sorry” to me.
I was okay about it. Really. I had come down with a stomach flu that had kept me home on test day and back then there weren’t any re-takes. Nevertheless, it was a close race. Maria and I left everyone else behind by an extremely large margin. I didn’t mind her winning after all that.
But I did regret something.
After that school year I should have thanked our dear Mrs. Medlock. I should have told her what an amazing teacher she was. Inspiring, excellent teaching skills and very clever ideas. Space Race aside, she was one of my best teachers at Burleson.
Staff Report August 22, 2016Local NewsComments Off on Students at 59 EPISD Campuses will get Free School Lunch, Breakfast
Students 59 El Paso Independent School District campuses will get free school lunches and breakfasts thanks to national program aimed at providing more nutritious meals students.
Laura Durán, EPISD’s Director of Food and Nutrition Services, announced that the District once again will participate in the Community Eligibility Program from the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
The Community Eligibility Program, or CEP, provides breakfast and lunch to all children at no cost and eliminates the collection of meal application for free, reduced-priced and paid students meals.
“The application process can be cumbersome for some families, and we know that there are many of our schools that will have a majority of the students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals,” Durán said. “This program gives us the opportunity to reach as many students as we can in order to give them a nutritious meal that will help them be ready for instruction.”
The CEP targets schools with high volumes of students who would already qualify for free or reduced-priced meals based on income or other eligibility requirements.
• Middle Schools: Armendariz, Bassett, Canyon Hills, LaFarelle, Charles, Guillen, Henderson, Magoffin, Morehead, Terrace Hills, Wiggs.
• High Schools: Austin, Bowie, Chapin, Irvin, Jefferson, Telles Academy and the College, Career and Technology Academy.
Students attending schools not participating in the CEP may qualify free and reduced-price meals through the traditional application process. Each school in EPISD, as well as the Food and Nutrition Services Department, has a copy of the eligibility rules and guidelines policy that are used to determine participation.
Applications may be picked up at each campus, or they may be downloaded from the EPISD website at www.episd.org under the Food and Nutrition Services Department. Applications are also available in at the Food and Nutrition Services office at 6531 Boeing.
Staff Report July 22, 2016NewsComments Off on El Paso ISD offers Parents four Pre-Kindergarten Options
The El Paso Independent School District this upcoming school year will offer four different options for families interested in enrolling their children in prekindergarten classes.
“Early childhood education is how we provide the foundation for children to become successful throughout the rest of their educational career,” said prekindergarten facilitator Mindy Caldwell.
One of the biggest initiatives to boost early childhood education is Universal Pre-kindergarten, which gives 4-year-olds the opportunity to enroll at one of the eight sites throughout the District regardless of income or language status.
“It is going to provide more opportunities for students to become school-ready by the time they enter kindergarten,” Caldwell said.
Barron, Bond, Cielo Vista, Crockett, Kohlberg, Fannin, Travis, Schuster and MacArthur elementary schools will offer the program. Students must be four by Sept. 1 to qualify.
Thanks to a two-year state grant the District will also open an additional 250 pre-K slots for qualifying students at Burleson, Collins, Guerrero, Hart, Park and Travis elementary schools.
In addition, the grant will allow EPISD to offer prekindergarten classes at five YWCA daycare centers throughout the city. More than 200 half-day slots will be available. The partnership allows parents to drop off students at YWCA where they can stay before and after class.
“This program is going to allow working parents to drop off their kids in the morning and pick them up after work, relieving some of the stress that came with enrolling in students in traditional half-day programs,” said EPISD Deputy Superintendent for Academics and School Leadership Ivonne Durant.
Families must meet federal qualifications to enroll in the YWCA program. Non-qualifying students may enroll if there is space available.
The participating YWCA sites are Angela Guevara, Patricia Rogers, Carlisle, Kastrin and El Paso Community College Transmountain.
The District is also piloting a program aimed at providing early education to general education to 3-year-olds.
“This is something brand new,” Caldwell said. “We’ve had special education students who are three but now general education students can attend pre-K. It’s the same eligibility as the four-year-olds. They need to meet eligibility requirements and be three by Sept. 1.”
For information on how to enroll parents are encouraged to contact the specific campus where they would like to enroll their child.
“We are excited about all these new initiatives,” Caldwell said. “We are looking forward to seeing how this is going to impact our earliest learners.”