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Home | Tag Archives: El Paso ISD

Tag Archives: El Paso ISD

EPISD’s Rivera Elementary Honored as One of ‘America’s Healthiest Schools’

This week, El Paso ISD’s Rivera Elementary was named one of America’s Healthiest Schools by the Alliance for Healthier Generation in recognition of the campus’ commitment to student well-being.

Not only was Rivera one of only 461 schools in all of the United States that were selected to the list, the elementary is the only El Paso County school to be named to the list.

“Serving the children of our community goes beyond providing quality teaching and learning in the classroom,” Principal Cindy Contreras said. “Rivera has made health a priority for every student because we know that a successful student is one that thrives academically and in life through healthful choices.”

The honor was based on a rigorous set of criteria that includes the availability of nutritious foods and access to quality and innovative physical-education opportunities.

Rivera was recognized for the following criteria:

  • Meeting or exceeding federal nutrition standards for school meals and snacks.
  • Offering daily breakfast.
  • Implementing district wellness policies and updating progress annually; and
  • Providing students with at least 60 minutes of physical education per week to ensure physical activity throughout the school day.

“The Healthy Schools Program has served over 42,000 schools. Each one recognizes the academic, social and behavioral benefits of prioritizing student health,” said Brian Weaver, Chief Programming Officer at the Alliance for Healthier Generation. “We are proud to recognize the exceptional efforts of Rivera Elementary School for serving as a best-in-class example of what it means to create healthier environments for both students and staff.”

Rivera is one of more than 40,000 schools in the United States that participates in the Healthy Generation’s Healthy Schools Program.  The no-cost service provides training, resources and technical assistance to schools that wish to have a positive impact on their students’ health.

Story by Gustavo Reveles Acosta – EPISD

EPISD Day School for the Deaf Offering Adult American Sign Language Classes

Inside the parent engagement room at Hillside Elementary School a few parents gathered to hone their skills in sign language. They reviewed common signs for foods and a rather important word to remember: coffee.

The parents, who are among the 35 families with children enrolled in the Regional Day School for the Deaf at Hillside, smiled as they motioned coffee – which uses both hands together to look like an old coffee grinder with the top hand making a cranking motion.

Teaching sign language to parents and the community has become extension of the service they provide to support the education and culture of the deaf community.

Free sign language classes are offered at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays in the Hillside cafeteria.

“We’ve been providing the free sign language class for over 20 years here in our community,” said Jason Lilly, Regional Day School coordinator. “You have people that may have lost their hearing that are attending the class to learn sign language for themselves. We have parents, aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters that come to the class because they have a family member who’s deaf or hard of hearing. Some come just because they want to learn sign language.”

April Finlay wants to become more proficient in signing to help her daughter Ashley, who is new at the Hillside the Regional Day School for the Deaf.

Photo courtesy EPISD

“I want to be able to stay ahead of my daughter in learning sign language,” said the mother of the 3-year-old student. “I’ve heard that like if you don’t start taking sign language classes, that your kids will surpass you and then you’re going to fall back on ways to communicate. She wears hearing aids but if the hearing aids go out, I want another way to communicate with her.”

Finlay’s in-laws also are deaf, which gives her another reason to learn sign language.

“I think it’s fascinating to learn another language,” she said. “I want to keep learning more languages and this is one of them.”

Nearly 80 families are part of the Regional Day School for the Deaf at four campuses, Hillside and Bonham elementary schools, Ross Middle and Burges High.

Lilly encourages parents and other family members to join the free hour-long class, which is offered for both intermediate and beginners. The drop-in classes are free and participants can attend the Monday classes at their leisure.

“The language does progress and builds on itself so consistency is important,” Lilly said. “It’s so important for their families to learn sign language for their child’s development. Think about all the things that happen outside of school and all the language that occurs at home and out in the community. If that grandparents or other family member signs, then it gives that child a better chance of really understanding what’s going on.”

Finlay has enjoyed learning sign language simultaneously with her young daughter.

“It’s just been such an eye opener and it’s opened a lot of doors for my daughter,” she said. “Sign language has actually given words meaning to her.  I see that her speech is developing along with the sign language. I want to keep up with her, to be able to keep that communication going.”

For more information on the American Sign Language classes for adults, please contact the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf at EPISD at 915-230-2842 or email them at

Three EPISD Seniors Named Semifinalists for National Merit Scholarship

Three of the four National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists in El Paso County announced this week are EPISD seniors.

“The National Merit Scholarship Program has for decades exemplified academic excellence and college readiness among high-school students,” said EPISD Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “We are proud that Melchor, Malcolm and David are continuing the long-standing tradition of excellence EPISD has had in producing semifinalists and scholars in this very selective program.”

The National Merit Scholarship organization, which manages this prestigious and sought-after program, said around 16,000 students throughout the country were named semifinalists and are vying for more than $31 million in college funding.

The EPISD seniors who were named finalists this week are:

  • Melchor Herrera from Franklin High School
  • Malcolm Lyn from Coronado High School
  • David Mullings from El Paso High School.

To qualify for this honor, students must score in the top 1 percent of students in their state on the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which measures a person’s abilities in critical reading, math problem solving and writing rather than their existing knowledge.

More than 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

Story by Reneé de Santos | Graphic by Martín A. López – EPISD

EPISD Focuses on Dad’s Role in Education via “Take Your Dad to School Day”

In a scene to be repeated throughout EPISD this week, students walked hand and hand with their dads down the halls at Logan Elementary to give their fathers a glimpse of their daily lessons and routines.

The students brought their fathers with them to school for the Strong Father “Take Your Dad to School Day” initiative.

Elementary campuses throughout EPISD will be participating in a similar event, which begins with classroom time and ends with a group activity for the dads.

At Logan, prekindergarten and kinder students sat eating breakfast with their dads before going to class while older students lined up with dad on the blacktop.

“This is my dad,” Joshua Ellis Jr. said, tugging his dad’s fingers. “My dad gets to stay with me today.”

Dad Joshua Ellis’ twin pre-k boys enjoyed seeing him at their school and especially in their classroom.

“This is my spot,” little Joshua told his dad before the announcements and National Anthem began.

The soldier dads watched their little ones carefully during the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, some guiding them to make sure their right hand was correctly placed on their heart.

“I think it’s great that they get to see their dads are here to support them in their education,” Ellis said. “I was glad to see them interacting with their classmates and teachers. I want to be able to help them improve and know what they are doing.”

At PE, dads and kindergarten students gathered in the multipurpose room to play with beanbags – a lesson in coordination and motor skills. The coach gave instructions to the little ones to toss the beanbags in the air, clap, catching it with another hand.  The dads stood next to their kids guiding them, smiling, playing a little catch and posing for selfies to mark the occasion.

Brian Ault stood back watching his son Steven, who is in the kindergarten collaborative, toss the beanbag amid dozens of his peers.

“I haven’t been very active in his school I’ve just been picking him and dropping him off so this gives me a chance to see him interact with other kids instead of relying on what the teacher says,” Ault said. “I want to have an understanding of what my son is doing and see if there are any issues we need to address at home.”

Alfredo Chavez, who teaches prekindergarten dual language for the 3-year-olds, gathered parents outside his class to talk about his classroom rules and routines.

“It’s important that parents feel comfortable with the school,” Chavez said. “We want to build structure and bond from the beginning to build trust with the parents.

Chavez and the other early childhood teachers have been working on rituals and routines for the little learners since school began last month. “We want them to know we are not a day care. We are an academic settings and we have rules and structures that need to be followed and even rules for the parents to follow.”

Fathers posting photos during “Take your Dad to School Day” this week are encouraged to use #episddads.

Story by Reneé de Santos |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

EPISD’s Brown Middle has Texas’ Top School Nurse

Miriam Carmichael’s advocacy for diverse populations of children and their health care needs earned her the 2018 Texas School Nurse of the Year honor.

Carmichael is the third EPISD nurse to receive this statewide honor since the Texas School Nurses Organization the recognition began in 2003.

“I know that Miriam received this honor because she seeks the best possible solution to care for our students,” said Luisa Herrera, nurse educator in Special Education/Health Services. “She is a staunch advocate of students with life and intellectual challenges.”

Herrera, who has worked with Carmichael for 14 years, nominated Carmichael for the honor. In Herrera’s nomination letter, she shared details about how Carmichael has made a difference in the lives of students at the individual campuses she’s served and demonstrated her commitment to improving healthcare for students throughout the community.

“Ms. Carmichael’s compassion, advocacy, leadership abilities and commitment to school nursing will continue to set her apart from other nurses in our professional field,” she wrote.

Carmichael humbly credits the award to the District’s nursing leadership – from health services to the strong collaboration among her colleagues.

“We have excellent nurse leadership and an involved nurse leadership team. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” she said. “All the support and high standards makes for an environment that promotes excellence. I’m just representing them.”

Carmichael notes that of the 16 other state nurses of the year across Texas, two are from EPISD: Christina Maxwell, now serving EPISD students as a speech therapist, and Nancy Haegele, a nurse at Morehead Middle School.

“We have excellent nurses in EPISD,” she said.

Carmichael, who has been with EPISD since 2004, has served as a nurse at Johnson and Burleson elementary schools before joining Brown Middle in 2017. She spent 19 years caring for children pediatric Intensive Care Units at hospitals in El Paso and out of state before joining the ranks of school nursing.

“I found my calling in school nursing,” she said.

Carmichael’s found herself drawn to serving and advocating for students with diverse backgrounds who often are new immigrants, low income, homeless and with special needs.

“Sometimes the school nurses is their main clinic if they don’t have access to other types of healthcare,” Carmichael said. “The school nurse is the first person to see a lot of things – not just medical problems but the kids who are experiencing anxiety, depression and who were having problems at home and their families aren’t able to cope. Sometimes we are the first person to help.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photos by Leonel Monroy – EPISD

Story in Many Pics: Mustangs Stampede Rangers 41-6

The Burges Mustangs headed to the Lower Valley to take on the Riverside Rangers Friday night at the newly-renamed Tom Work Field at Riverside Stadium.

The Rangers did their best, but the Mustangs would not be denied after last week’s win-as-a-tie, and won the game 41-6.

Our very own Steven Cottingham was there and brings you his view of the game in this ‘Story in Many Pics.”


EPISD Rolls Out ‘Tips by Text,’ Pre-K, Kinder Parents Get Help Via Cell Phone

For parents in EPISD, getting useful tips to get early-childhood education help can be as easy as checking the text messages on their phones.

Tips by Text is a new tool available free of charge to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten parents in EPISD who want fun, quick tips to aid their children with thier ABCs.

The program was developed by researchers at Brown University as a way to help parents better prepare their children during the early stages of the education process.

“A lot of parents don’t know how to work with their children to build their literacy skills at home, so this offers easy suggestions they can use at home and that will have a long-lasting impact in the education of their kids,” said Tim Holt, EPISD’s director of technology innovation and pilots.

Parents who wish to participate can fill out a participation form at their child’s EPISD elementary school.

The Tips by Text program is part of a research study aimed at improving early-childhood education. Participants can cancel their participation at any time, and although a survey will be collected at the end of the year, parents are not required to fill it.

Participation in the program is completely confidential.

Text sent to parents are easy to understand and give useful facts, tips and even suggestions for activities that can help their children start learning to read early. Examples of literacy texts include:

  • Letters are the building blocks of written language. Children need to know the letters to learn how to read & write.
  • Point out the first letter in your child’s name in magazines, on signs and at the store. Have your child try. Make it a game. Who can find the most?
  • Keep pointing out letters. Point out each of the letters in your child’s name. Ask: What sound does it make?

“Our research to date has demonstrated that the text messaging program increases pre-kindergarten parents’ involvement at home and school, ultimately leading to learning gains in some areas of literacy, math and social emotional development,” said Dr. Eileen Horng, executive director of the Annenberg Institute Labs at Brown University.

Generally, on Mondays, “fact” texts are sent, designed to generate buy-in from parents and provide information by highlighting the importance of a skill or the ease of an activity.

On Wednesdays, “tip” texts are sent, which aim to reduce the cognitive demand of supporting child development by showing parents how to make the most of existing family routines in fun and easy ways.

On Fridays, “growth” texts are sent, which provide parents with encouragement and reinforcement as well as a follow-up tip. The text messages are: linked to state standards; draw on research on child development, parenting practices, and behavior change strategies; and cover a wide range of literacy, math, and social emotional skills.

“Unlike other programs that place significant demands on parents, this text messaging program breaks down the complexity of parenting into small steps that are easy to achieve,” Horng said. “It also provides parents with encouragement and information over prolonged periods of time.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Photo by Leonel Monroy – El Paso ISD

El Paso ISD Inviting Dads to ‘Strong Schools, Strong Fathers’ Events Next Week

Fathers and father figures are encouraged to get more involved in the education of elementary school-aged children through Bring Your Dad to School Week, a five-day series of events throughout EPISD.

Elementary campuses will host a “Bring your Dad to School Day” at least once during the week of September 10-14 as part of the – Strong Fathers Initiative. Dads are encouraged to check with their child’s campus for details of activities planned for the week.

“The Strong Schools, Strong Fathers program aims to strengthen our District and campus efforts in making fathers and families active partners in the education of their children,” said Ray Lozano, executive director of Student and Family Empowerment. “These types of programs benefit our students by enhancing their parents’ capacity to provide social-emotional and academic support.”

EPISD has been working with Michael Hall, founder of Strong Fathers-Strong Families, to build the capacity of parental engagement in the District. Bring your Dad to School Day is one of many initiatives in which campuses are participating in conjunction with Student and Family Empowerment.

Elementary campuses also are planning other specific academic nights for students and their dads.

“Studies have shown that when fathers spend time with their child on homework, share meals together, and spend play time together, those children do better academically, are in less trouble in school and the community, are more likely to pursue post-secondary education,” Hall said. “When fathers read to kids their verbal skills can increase by up to 15 percent which does not happen when moms read to them.”

The program also hopes to strengthen bonds between fathers and their child or children, and make fathers feel more comfortable at the campus itself.

“When dads get to see what actually goes on during the school day in their child’s class they are empowered to be more engaged in the education of their child,” Hall said. “Today’s classroom is drastically different than even those of our youngest fathers and when dads see how kids learn and how they are being taught, then they have a better understanding of how they can help guide their child in their learning.”

Hall added that “Bring your Dad to School Day” allows dads see how the classroom functions they also get to see their child’s interactions with the teacher and the other students.

“Dads also get to see how children work together and how their child compares to their peers and their expected development,” he said. “Having an understanding of how the classroom works and how it works for their child helps dads to be engaged the entire school year.”

Stay connected with all Strong Schools, Strong Fathers initiatives in the District by following the hashtag #EPISDdads

Story by Reneé de Santos | Graphic by Martín A. López – EPISD

El Paso ISD Ranked Third in State for High-Performing Schools; 11 Campuses Honored

According to new figures released by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) has 11 campuses that earned all available distinction designations available to them during the 2018 accountability ratings period.

“Our focus on Active Learning has helped us reach unprecedented goals in student outcomes,” said Superintendent Juan Cabrera. “EPISD is one of the best school districts in the state, and our students and teachers are showing that innovation in the classroom works.”

With 11 total campuses on the list, EPISD has the most high-performing schools in the region and is third in the state for districts with schools earning all available distinctions given by the Texas Education Agency this year.  Only two school districts – Houston and Dallas ISDs — have more schools with all distinctions in the state.

The distinctions show students in those campuses are performing at elevated levels in all tested areas, and show academic growth that puts them on track to be college and career ready by the time they graduate high school.

The schools that earned all academic distinctions are: El Paso, Silva Health Magnet and Chapin high schools; Wiggs Middle School; and Hughey, Lamar, Milam, Collins, Cielo Vista, Polk and Green elementary schools.

“Earning one or several campus-level distinctions is notable and should be applauded by a community as an outstanding achievement,” Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath said. “For a school to earn every potential distinction applicable to their campus is difficult, but a reflection of some truly amazing work by our educators.”

The distinctions include measurements of proficiency and growth based on student performance on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (STAAR) and End of Course exams.

The distinctions measure academic achievement in English, math, science and social studies, as well as growth in categories like college readiness and closing learning gaps.

Video+Story: CTE Students Expand Training Thanks to New Virtual Reality Tool

A new virtual reality tool will allow CCTE, Franklin and Silva Health Magnet students to look deep into every aspect of the human body, dissect animals, explore paleontology and even study automotive applications without leaving the classroom.

Trainers introduced the new zSpace technology to Career and Technology Education teachers from CCTE, Franklin and Silva Health Magnet last week.

The teachers donned special tracking glasses and wielded a stylus to get a close up, authentic look at internal organs, blood vessels and other parts of the human body. The skull virtually popped into the space between teachers and their screens – giving them a chance to maneuver the stylus and go in for a closer look.

Anatomy is only one of many virtual, 3-D learning applications available through the zSpace technology.

“One of the things that makes this so important and so critical is the high level of engagement that it evokes from students immediately,” said Kevin Dougherty, zSpace sales director. “You don’t have to rely on the teacher to evoke that from kids. It actually comes from the child themselves from elementary through high school when they have this experience with virtual reality.”

Photo courtesy of zSpace

During the all-day training, the teachers spent time exploring the human body and discussing how to incorporate their lessons with the new technology.

The initial movements of the stylus brought lots of oohs and ahhs – something the teachers expect to hear when their students begin using zSpace. The technology offers engaging, real-world training that offers students a deeper understanding of their curriculum.

“The training has been very interactive,” said Dr. Dominque Nehring, who teaches vet tech at CCTE. “The kids are going to be really excited to use this.”

Nehring finds the possibility endless for the new technology – giving students virtual hands-on lessons in areas they might not otherwise experience. Students could perform anything from a virtual EKGs to examining the inner workings of a car, learn how to take it apart and put it back together.

“We could even do a virtual spay or neuter,” she said. “This has been a nice experience. I’ve learned a lot and we’re excited about bringing our kids in and letting them start playing.”

zSpace technology is spreading throughout Texas but Dougherty said EPISD has become an area of focus for the company.

“What’s most exciting about working here in El Paso ISD is the great sense of vision and the idea that anything is possible,” Dougherty said. “As a result, we’re looking to set El Paso ISD as our first district of distinction in the state of Texas for zSpace.”

Story by Reneé de Santos  |  Video by Raymond Jackson/EPISD 

TownTalk High School Football: Live Coverage & More

Live coverage of your favorite high school team is just a click away thanks to our partners over at TownTalk Sports El Paso.

Catch all the play-by-play LIVE on any web-enabled device!

Plus Interviews, Previews, Schedules & More

Brown New Tech Earns T-STEM Designation from TEA

Active Learning at this West Side school got a boost of science, technology, engineering and math thanks to a new designation from the Texas Education Agency.

Brown Middle School is now an official T-STEM Academy and is one of a selective number of campuses in Texas who offers a curriculum focusing on those important subjects.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our students,” said principal Laurie Enloe. “Our teachers are also excited about being offered this type of rigorous and innovative curriculum to this community.”

The school was invited to apply for the designation as part of Franklin High School’s T-STEM designation process, creating a 6-12 pathway for students.

“Our teachers are so excited about the opportunities they have to engage students in new ways,” principal Laurie Enloe said. “I can’t express more how exciting it is to be a bulldog.”

Brown qualified for the T-STEM designation by implementing a blueprint of instruction that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. The middle school was invited to apply for the designation as part of Franklin High School’s T-STEM designation process.

“This creates an opportunity for students to have a pathway in STEM from the sixth-grade to high-school graduation,” Enloe said.

At Brown, the program starts in sixth-grade with Gateway to STEM and continues with Pathways to STEM and Applications of STEM in seventh and eighth grade, respectively.

Science teacher Ryan Edwards has already started using project-based learning in his classes.

“Out-of-the-box thinking comes with students taking control of their own learning,” Edwards said. “When you have a project-based classroom and students answer questions in their own way that stimulates innovation. I think it’s crucial because then students feel connected to the material they are learning.”

Brown student Juancarlos Escobar is excited his fellow peers will be implementing project-based learning in the traditional classroom.

“It’s more hands-on and you get to do your own thing. You can talk to other students and collaborate more on projects,” the seventh-grader said. “You learn to be more responsible and have more agency in your learning.”

Video+Story: Hart Elementary Opens First Dual-Language/New Tech Campus in U.S.

Starting this school year, students at this South Side elementary school will be the first in the nation to tackle innovative project-based learning with a focus on dual-language education.

More than 200 students at Hart last week kicked off the first year of the New Tech Network presence at the school.  Hart is only the second elementary school in Texas to adopt the project-based learning program and the first in the country to couple that style of teaching with a dual-language focus.

“We’re changing the way we teach … the way our students learn is going to be different and more effective,” principal Angelica Negrete said. “Students and parents are going to see a big difference in the classroom — from how the room physically looks to how instruction happens in small groups. The whole thing is innovative and forward-thinking.”

The Hart pipeline into New Tech programs at Guillen Middle School and Bowie High School creates EPISD’s first K-12 pathway for project-based learning.

The creation of the New Tech program at Hart was made possible through a transformation grant the District received last school year.  Since then, Negrete and District officials have been working with teachers and even some students to get ready for the full implementation of the program.

Some students say they already can see a difference in the way they are learning.

“I think we can communicate better with our classmates and research on our MacBooks we are going to get,” said fifth-grade student Derek Montanez. “I think it’s better in New Tech because we can engage in learning in a different way.”

Fifth-grader Megan Quian agrees and is looking forward to thriving in New Tech at Hart and then Guillen.

“It’s a lot more fun because in the old class we had to use paper and pencils, but it’s a lot more fun to use new technology,” she said. “We will have more experience with laptops.”

The New Tech model focuses on five learning outcomes: oral communication, written communication, collaboration, knowledge and thinking and agency.

“What makes New Tech different is not only do we teach the standards like every school in the country, but we focus on these learning outcomes and really encourage students to take ownership of their learning,” said Scott Grey, New Tech director of innovation, design and development.

EPISD is one of the largest adapters of New Tech Network strategies in the country.  Aside from Hart, Guillen and Bowie, New Tech programs exist at Franklin, Austin and Irvin high schools; Brown and Canyon Hills middle schools; and the Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy.

Story by Alicia Chumley  |  Video by Angel Dominguez – EPISD

Video+Gallery+Story: Sprint Grant Provides 1,350 WiFi Hotspots to EPISD Students

EPISD high-school students will now have access to high-speed Internet wherever they go thanks to to Sprint’s 1million Project, which will provide 1,350 WiFi devices to the District.

“In partnership with Sprint, this program will allow students who don’t have Internet connectivity to have it at home,” said Jason Long, EPISD executive director of innovation, design and development. “This will allow students to do their schoolwork from home or wherever they are.

Each high school received a list of eligible students based on the free and reduced-priced lunch program. These students took a survey to determine if they qualified for the 1Million Project.

“Everyone deserves access to technology because in my mind technology is the great equalizer. We have WiFi at the schools, but we want to make sure students have access to wi-fi at home,” superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “This is going to do amazing things for our students.”

The devices will be housed in the school library, where qualifying students can check them out. Each device is CIPA compliant and provides 3G of data per month. Along with Internet access, Sprint has teamed up with the College Board and Khan Academy to provide SAT prep for all EPISD students.

Silva Health Magnet rolled out the red carpet Wednesday morning to welcome representatives from Sprint, decking the halls with ‘thank you’ signs. Each qualifying student received their own hotspot hub and instructions how to pair with their District-issued MacBook.

Sophomore Diego Sanchez won’t have to worry about having access to the Internet for the next few years. He will be able to keep the device the remainder of his time at Silva – even over summer breaks.

“I am excited. This is a really great thing for us,” he said. “It’s going to help me with my homework and school projects. I have been using my cellphone to do research, and it’s difficult to see things on the smaller screen.”

Junior Destinee Portillo is happy she won’t have to go across town anymore to use her cousin’s Internet service when she has an online assignment to complete.

“I think this is super awesome because honestly I have a lot of problems doing my homework because I don’t have WiFi at home, but I have all the tools I need now with my laptop and the hotspot,” she said. “There’s nothing that will stop me now.”

The hotspot will also benefit her sister, who is a sixth-grader at Terrace Hills Middle School.

“My sister and I are going to be able to use the Internet because all our homework is online,” Portillo said. “Big thank you to Sprint. It’s such a big help not just to me but everyone else in school as well.”

Story by Alicia Chumley | Photos by Leonel Monroy | Video by Angel Dominguez/EPISD

EPISD Board Approves Penny Swap; Officials Say ‘Would bring $7m in State Funds’

The El Paso Independent School District will seek voter approval for a no-tax-rate-increase Penny Swap election that could bring in $7 million in matching state funds to help give teachers and employees a salary stipend.

The EPISD Board of Trustees on Monday approved the Penny Swap referendum, officially known as a Tax Ratification Election, on Monday. Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, with early voting taking place from October 22 to November 2.

“The Penny Swap gives the District the opportunity to provide a $750 holiday stipend for employees without costing homeowners any additional taxes,” said EPISD Board President Trent Hatch. “From moving 10 cents from one side of the tax rate formula to the other, we are able to tap into money the state has set aside and that we otherwise can’t access.”

If approved by the voters, the Penny Swap will allow the District to lower by 10 cents the Interest & Sinking portion of its tax rate and switch those 10 cents to the Maintenance & Operation portion of the rate.

The total tax rate for EPISD would remain at $1.31 per $100 valuation — the same as last year.

EPISD has invested millions of dollars in employee salaries, the modernization of facilities and the upgrade of teaching standards over the past five years, resulting in the favorable state ratings and higher student performance. However, declining enrollment and other factors have lead to significant decreases in state and federal funding.

EPISD successfully approved a no-tax-rate-increase Penny Swap election in 2015 to bring in an additional $9 million per year.  Voters in the District also supported the $669-million Bond 2016 that will modernize facilities and right-size the number of facilities EPISD operates.

Story by Gustavo Reveles \ Graphic by Gabriela Warren – EPISD

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