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Wednesday , November 14 2018
Home | Tag Archives: episd bond

Tag Archives: episd bond

Video+Story: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Completion of Bond 2016 Playground Projects

Teachers, school board members and — of course, students — celebrated the completion of all Bond 2016-funded playgrounds on Wednesday during a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event at Cooley Elementary School.

The students at Cooley and 20 other campuses are now using state-of-the-art playgrounds that incorporate Social Emotional Learning principles and plain, old fun or hundreds of students in EPISD.

“The playgrounds are an important part of the modernization of EPISD,” Cabrera said. “They provide age-appropriate physical activity that goes hand-in-hand with our goal of giving social and emotional learning opportunities for all students.”

At the ceremony on Wednesday, Superintendent Juan Cabrera and members of the EPISD Board of Trustees shared the responsibilities of cutting the ribbon for the new playground with the children of Cooley.

“We are excited that voters approved the bond so for us to show progress 15 months later with the building and installation of these new playgrounds is really great,” said Carlos Gallinar, EPISD Executive Director of Planning & Innovative Schools Construction.

“It’s always great to be a kid and be able to have good equipment and infrastructure to be able to exercise and play. We know that playgrounds are important not only for academics but for youth development.”

At Cooley, the District installed two different play areas, each designed for different age groups. The installation of the new playgrounds goes hand-in-hand with the District’s modernization plan as well as the implementation of both social emotional and active learning.

“These playgrounds allow kids to interact more with each other or individually if they choose. They have different moving and educational components,” Gallinar said. “The playgrounds of yesteryear tended to be static, so we focused on schools that had the oldest equipment and install up-to-date playgrounds.”

Cooley third-grader Gisele Valdez and her classmates have been anticipating the opening of the playground for months.

“Every day kids would try to get on the playground,” she said. “I think it looks amazing. I am excited to play on it and get some exercise. The old playground was looking faded and this one has bright colors and lots of stuff to play on.”

Once schools were identified, a project manager worked with principals to gather their input based on the school’s needs.

“We offered various types of options for them in terms of various colors and equipment for them,” Gallinar said. “We are very proud that we have been able to work with the schools to make sure we are implementing something that at the end of the day they are happy with.”

Putnam Elementary principal Cynthia Sanchez, who was present at the ribbon cutting, is looking forward to putting the new playground at her school to use.

“Putnam is very excited to have a three-year-old program so we can’t wait to start using our new playground, which is specifically designed for three- to five-year-olds,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for our little ones to have a safe and fun environment. The previous playground was built for first to fifth-graders so the dimensions weren’t appropriate for the younger students.”

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

El Paso ISD Trustees OKs $11.8M for New Middle School Laptops

As promised during the Bond 2016 campaign, the El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved the purchase and lease of $11.8 million in Apple laptops to help expand the popular PowerUp Program.

EPISD will use $7 million in funds approved by the voters during the historic 2016 Bond to help pay for the MacBook Air devices. The rest of the funding will come out of the District’s instructional materials allotment and the general fund.

The approved plan will guarantee that every middle school student will have an internet- ready Apple device starting in the fall. EPISD has about 12,500 students in grades six, seven and eight.

“We are starting to see the Bond at work, and I couldn’t be more excited for the future of the District,” Board President Dori Fenenbock said. “PowerUp has been a catalyst for positive change in the way we teach and our students learn. I am excited to see its expansion to the middle school grades.”

PowerUp was launched during the 2015-16 school year with the distribution of a laptop to each of the 18,000 high-school students in EPISD. During the campaign for Bond 2016, the District said it would use some of the money approved by voters to expand the program to sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

The plan approved by the Board on Tuesday will delay by several years the purchase of new MacBook Air devices for those middle schools whose students received a new Apple iPad at the beginning of this school year.

Those schools, along with students in high school grades, will receive new devices as part of a 5-year plan to introduce Apple computers to all students.

EPISD will use a combination of purchase and lease programs that, combined with a buyback provision of aging devices, will help sustain the distribution of new PowerUp laptops in subsequent years.

Superintendent Juan Cabrera said the purchase and lease of these computers came after months of research and vetting by a committee made up of educators and instructional technology experts.

The committee looked at PC, Chromebook and Apple devices before making their recommendation based on product quality, multimedia tools, professional development and total cost of ownership.

2016 EPISD Bond Moves Forward with New Website, Design Bids

El Paso Independent School District administrators took key steps this week in moving forward with the bond that will transform its schools into what officials call “21st century learning institutions.”

The District this week posted its Requests for Qualifications bids seeking architectural and engineering design services for the major construction projects totaling approximately $600 million. A similar bid requests for the resurfacing of athletics fields, playfield lighting, and playgrounds will be posted by the end of the week.

Any interested vendors should follow District polices for bids posted on the Procurement Services page at episd.org

EPISD on Monday also unveiled a new Bond 2016 website which will become the hub of all public information for the bond and will provide up-to-date details on construction projects. These key steps come less than 90 days after the passage of the bond.

“The District made a commitment to move forward with these projects in a timely manner and we are working hard to ensure that we are responsive to the public, student, teachers, and parents of EPISD,” said Carlos Gallinar, EPISD’s Executive Director for Planning and Innovative Schools Construction. “This is the first step in what we feel will be an unprecedented construction program in El Paso. We are confident that the impact these projects will have are going to make our District a premier district in the state.”

The Board of Trustees is expected to approve bids at its regular March 21 meeting and firms should begin design work by the end of April, pending final contract negotiations and approval. Subsequent steps include the first meeting of the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, or CBAC, on Feb. 16.

“The CBAC is another layer of accountability the public has to make sure that the projects outlined in the bond are completed successfully,” said Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, EPISD’s Deputy Superintendent for Finance and Operations. “This Bond will have unprecedented levels of public input and transparency. That’s part of our commitment to the public.”

El Paso ISD: Favorable Bond sale Results in $10 Million Savings

Officials with the El Paso Independent School District said Wednesday that the district sold its first batch of bonds from the recently approved election during the winter break and received higher than expected interest from buyers that resulted in nearly $10 million in savings.

On January 4, EPISD sold the first $200 million in bonds of the $668.7 million voters approved in November. The money will be used to modernize campuses, consolidate low-enrollment schools and make upgrades in athletics, technology, transportation and safety and security throughout the District.

“EPISD has developed a reputation of being an innovative, financially stable school district, and that reputation is creating opportunities for us to provide taxpayers with some cost savings,” Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. “The savings will help us further address the critical modernization needs in the District, which will help us continue our efforts of providing a future-ready education to our students.”

Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, the District’s Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Operations, said EPISD welcomes the interest from investors, especially as it continues to plan for major construction and renovation projects over the next 3 to 5 years.

She added that investors may have been attracted to purchase EPISD bonds because of key factors like the strong financial performance of the District, the passage of both the EPISD Penny Swap and the bond election, strong governance and administration and the upgrades in credit ratings from the Texas Permanent School Fund and Moody’s.

“Investors are rediscovering EPISD not just for the improvements in instruction and governance, but also for its administrative and fiscal stability,” Arrieta-Candelaria said. “The District is using sound practices and strong character as it moves forward. We know those are characteristics that not just investors, but also parents and students value.”

EPISD finance officials said the interest from investors in the bonds exceeded expectations and that underwriters secured orders at a rate of four times the number of bonds available.

The high demand yielded a True Interest Cost of 3.921 percent, instead of the expected 4.1 percent. The difference means EPISD saved $9.9 million from the figures it first communicated to the Board of Trustees in December.

El Paso ISD: Improved Credit Rating Could save District up to $9 million

Moody’s Investor Service, one of the three largest credit rating agencies in the country, on Thursday upgraded the El Paso Independent School District’s credit rating in anticipation of the sale of $184.1 million in bonds approved by voters last month.

Moody’s assigned an initial Aa2underlying/Aaa enhanced rating to EPISD for the upcoming bond issuance. That rating is an upgrade from the AA- the District had previously received from Standard & Poor’s, another leading rating agency.

Via a news release, officials with the district said, “EPISD could qualify for the State’s Permanent School Fund Guarantee, and with its new upgraded rating of AAA the impact to the cost of borrowing money could be significant.”

“The District could have savings in interest costs of anywhere between 5 to 10 basis points, which translates to a reduction of interest costs of between $4.7 million and $9.4 million over the term of the entire $668.7 million bond program,” they added.

Superintendent Juan Cabrera said the upgrade in rating is in response to the financial stability the District has experienced in recent years.

“It is our goal to not only deliver quality construction projects on time and on budget, but also to seek any avenue to help offset the cost the bond will have on our residents,” Cabrera said. “We can more comfortably proceed with the sale of bonds in an environment we know will benefit both the District and the taxpayers.”

On Tuesday, December 21st, EPISD also received a healthy AA underlying rating from Fitch Ratings, the third large bond credit rating agency in the country.

Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, the District’s deputy superintendent for finance and operations, credited the positive ratings to the leadership on the Board over the last two years.

“The Board of Trustees has been a key factor in establishing sound governance and fiscal procedures that are resonating throughout the state,” she said. “These practices will help us further move EPISD in a direction that will benefit our students academically and the taxpayers financially.”

Board President Dori Fenenbock said both Moody’s and Fitch point to the District’s conservative budgeting and management practices as key factors in delivering favorable credit ratings.

“This upgrade of our rating is the result of strong fiscal leadership and fiscal decision- making,” Fenenbock said. “It is a vote of confidence in the ability of the District to effectively manage the taxpayer’s money.”

Trustees on Tuesday approved the issuance of up to $200 million in bonds — the first issuance from the $668.7 million bond program voters approved on Nov. 8 for the modernization and right-sizing of the District. The bonds are expected to price via negotiated sale the week of Jan. 2, subject to market conditions.

Voters to Decide on El Paso ISD’s $668.7m Bond in November

EPISD voters on Nov. 8 will have a chance to decide on funding for the reconstruction, renovation and consolidation of aging schools, as well as improvements to technology, athletics, fine arts and transportation.

The EPISD Board of Trustees called for a $668.7 million bond election on Tuesday night to address the modernization and right-sizing of the District.

The proposal comes after months of work by the 80-plus member Facility Advisory Committee, which is comprised of community members, parents, civic leaders and staff. The committee reviewed the district’s facilities, technology, transportation and safety needs in formulating the recommendation to the board.

“Our work reflected very thoughtful, holistic decisions on what priorities are best for our entire District now while still trying to be good stewards of the tax dollars of our community,” said Susan Wiggs, a retired EPISD educator. “After thoughtful and careful consideration and collaboration, the committee came to consensus. All agreed on this bond amount.”

With the average age of campuses reaching the half century mark, the bulk of the bond would address the needs of aging buildings while keeping in mind the district’s continued struggle with declining enrollment.

To address these needs, the committee recommended major renovations, partial reconstruction, complete reconstruction and consolidations of campuses. Addressing technology needs to prepare students for a technology-rich digital future is also included in the proposal.

“This bond isn’t just about fixing or rebuilding our 50-year-old plus buildings,” Wiggs said. “The consolidation of schools and development of more K-8 campuses has been well researched and thought out. This bond is also about providing the best learning environment that is safe and secure for our students. It is a true marriage of academics, safety, technology, athletics, fine arts, and facilities.”

Superintendent Juan Cabrera said the District will begin informing the public about the Bond election and the projects included in it.

“Starting today, EPISD will begin an aggressive informational campaign that will aim to provide facts and figures to the voters and taxpayers of the district,” she said. “We wish for our parents and our residents to go to the polls to vote with not just their heart, but also with their head.”

If approved, the Bond would add 18.8 cents to the EPISD tax rate, which has remained the same over the last nine years and is the second lowest in the county. At its height, the bond would mean a $12 a month increase in school taxes.

Highlights of the bond proposal include:

Athletics
–Turf replace (all high schools), track and tennis courts (eight high schools),court/field lighting: $26,059,000
–Playgrounds, shading, court renovations (outdoor learning environment): $6,000,000.

Safety and Security
–Perimeter Security (fencing/lighting/sensors): $750,400

Technology
–Student laptops, Middle School PowerUp Rollout 2017: $4,065,000
–Teacher laptop refresh through 2019: $2,500,000
–Neighborhood WiFi: $500,000
–Network Infrastructure (cabling, controllers, routers, switches, access points): $9,540,000

TRANSPORTATION
–24 regular and 23 special needs buses (2016-17): $4,831,061
–12 special needs buses (2017-18): $1,268,260
–12 regular buses (2018-19): $1,273,386
–10 special needs buses (2019-20): $1,099,588

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
–Hughey (partial rebuild): $13,160,886
–Crockett (major renovation): $11,101,143

MIDDLE SCHOOLS
–Northeast Middle School replacing Bassett: $34,628,127
–Ross (rebuild): $39,522,843

HIGH SCHOOLS
–Austin (major renovation): $32,082,302
–El Paso (major renovation, fine arts addition): $21,084,597
–Andress (major renovation): $23,307,049
–Coronado (partial rebuild): $73,885,792
–Irvin (rebuild Phase 2): $27,849,309
–Burges (partial rebuild): $56,783,048
–Jefferson (partial rebuild), Silva (major renovation): $39,631,708

CONSOLIDATIONS
–Bradley Elementary School consolidating with Fannin Elementary School: $20,761,215
–Henderson Middle School becoming a prek-8 consolidating with Clardy Elementary School: $42,344,101
–Lincoln Middle School becoming a prek-8 consolidating with Bond and Roberts elementary schools: $47,822,384
–MacArthur Elementary/Intermediate consolidating with Bonham Elementary: $19,874,484
–Morehead Middle School becoming a prek-8 consolidating Johnson Elementary: $38,043,366
–Terrace Hills Middle School becoming a prek-8 consolidating Collins Elementary: $38,291,809
–Dowell Elementary consolidating Schuster and Crosby elementary schools: $30,634,719

El Paso ISD Facilities Advisory Committee Starts Deliberating

Members of the EPISD Facilities Advisory Committee rolled up their sleeves and began what is perhaps the most difficult part of their charge: narrowing down the list of projects that may be part of a potential bond election.

Using a special computerized system that allowed members to show support or opposition to a long list of proposed projects, the committee on Thursday night took the first step toward finalizing a proposed bond list that will be sent to the EPISD Board of Trustees.

No final list of projects was set. That task will not come until a future meeting of the committee in August.

The FAC, as the committee is known, is made up of nearly 80 community members that include parents, teachers, civic leaders, military representatives and students.

It was formed by the Board of Trustees to help them vet the need of a bond and the potential projects that should be included.

Members come from every corner of the District, but the committee was tasked to take a look at the needs of all students, not just the ones in their neighborhood schools.

The FAC is considering a list of about 60 projects aimed at modernizing and right-sizing the District.

EPISD operates more than 90 campuses, many of which have significantly low enrollment. Most facilities also are so old that they are either in disrepair or are not conducive to modern teaching and learning techniques.

To learn more about the FAC, click here.