With a vote for change on the EPISD school board, taxes will be reduced by at least $2-million a year without affecting our ability to enrich EPISD students’ education
Rex McBeath has authorized the Eagle Pass News Leader to formally announce his candidacy for Place 4 on the EPISD board of trustees and to present his platform to truly deliver excellence in education by focusing on enrichment of learning for all our students as opposed to the current focus of financial enrichment for friends, family, political allies and overpaid and underperforming top level administrators.
Sacrificing to pay for our future generations’ education is the most noble investment we will make during our lifetime. This investment does not come cheap and we all are limited as to how much we can afford. Therefore, it is imperative that we get the best return on our investment without self-serving, greedy individuals diverting our tax dollars for their own personal financial gain and benefit.
I was previously honored to serve as your representative on the EPISD board of trustees from 2003-2009 and when first elected inherited a public school system in dramatic decline due to an administration and school board that had completely lost focus on delivering the best education money can buy for our students. Sadly, today this situation is worse with blatant misuse and abuse of your children’s education dollars for personal financial gain, gain benefits and enrichment.
The most blatant misuse and abuse of your children’s tax dollars is coming from school board president Lupita Fuentes, who has hired and\or promoted a dozen or more of her family and friends to positions and high salaries. At least two of these appointments are in violation of State nepotism laws as reflected in an Attorney General Opinion (LO95-070). Fuentes is also sweeping under the rug serious sexual harassment allegations against another of her hires. My opponent is not Lupita Fuentes. The Place 4 seat I am asking you to elect me to is currently occupied by Hilda Martinez, who we can all agree has not sought any personal gains from hiring family or friends. However, all it would have taken to stop Lupita Fuentes’ blatant abuse was for one person with the backbone and ethics to say NO! So, ask yourself this question when deciding on who to vote for. Where’s Hilda?
Lupita Fuentes has been a school board member for 15 years but just in the past six or so years has embarked on this financial grab of jobs and raises for her friends and family. During this time she has hired her ex-husband; her daughter-in-law; promoted her daughter; promoted her ex brother-in-law; hired the son of a co-worker of hers at WIC as an EPISD police officer; raised the Superintendent’s salary by $60,000 in six years to $199,500 and including a $25,000 raise last year; refused to allow the hiring of a competent, qualified police chief so her political ally, who is unqualified for the job, can remain at a salary of approximately $90,000 instead of his patrolman pay of around $40,000; changed the titles of Ismael and Samuel Mijares to give them salary adjustments on top of raises and is now paying these deputy superintendents $135,000; and gave $10,000 stipends, salary adjustments and huge pay raises to at least 13 maintenance workers who will be called upon to carry votes for her to the polls. All together some maintenance workers raked off raises as high as $17,500 from Lupita Fuentes and the school board in August.
In the meantime, teachers only warranted a $3,000 raise and are being threatened that they better show their appreciation at the voting booth. This is a classic example of lost focus on education as teachers are directly responsible for the quality of education of our children receive in the classroom.
So the question returns. Where is Hilda? Is she too weak or too nice to stand up for the best interests of our students? Why has she not done anything to stop the misuse and abuse of your taxes?
While teachers and students rate at the bottom of this school board’s priorities, EPISD stakeholders also got a huge raise – two excessive tax increases that are generating $10-million in surpluses on an annual basis even during a year when the school board was throwing away $12-million on pet projects not directly aligned to academic excellence, like the remodeling of Austin Elementary into luxurious offices to top administrators. When you vote for change on the EPISD school board, taxes will be reduced by at least $2-million a year without affecting our ability to enrich EPISD students’ education comparable to the wealthiest district in the state of Texas. With $2-million back in your pockets and the recognized economic turnover of 7 times, that will translate to $14-million of economic impact for our community to create new jobs and opportunities instead of Ismael Mijares parking the surplus money in a bank so he can claim to be some kind of a financial genius.
The above represent some of the most pressing problems at EPISD and solutions to these problems, but I want to talk to you about academic opportunities. The following is an idea I presented when I was on the school board back in 2009 and for whatever reason was never followed through with.
The time has come for EPISD to create a true college preparatory academy which can be housed at the old high school on Del Rio Blvd. I envision such a campus accommodating 750 students from 7th through 12th grades with the students being equally recruited from southside and northside schools based on their advancement in academic studies. This is a continuation of No Child Left Behind, as finally we will be addressing the needs of our most gifted, talented and advanced students in preparing them for the rigors of studying at the most prestigious and challenging universities in the USA.
I envision this college preparatory academy as a full experience secondary education institution offering all the electives and extracurricular opportunities available to students in our traditional junior high and high schools. At 500 high school level students the school would be at the very top end of a 3-A classification, but if we chose to compete in 4-A would join a district that includes Carrizo Springs and Crystal City as well as other nearby schools thus reducing travel costs.
The federal government has $12-million in grants available over a three-year period to launch this school and the combination junior high and high school would alleviate rapid overcrowding at present facilities and eliminate in the near term need to construct two new school buildings at a cost of $60-million to $120-million each.
Academically challenging magnet schools are a proven concept for improving education. Several of the top rated high schools in the country, according to U.S. News, are magnet campuses located in the Rio Grande Valley. If we fail to take action now some private entity will most likely fill the void and siphon off our best students, our best teachers and the funding that comes with them.
I believe in addressing real issues rather than run a campaign on empty and unfulfilled clichés like “excellence in education.” This is your school district. It is time we took it back from those who are abusing it for personal gain. If you agree, I humbly and respectfully ask for your vote and support in the upcoming School Board election. Together, we will make the changes needed to provide our children with the best education possible so they are prepared to compete with anyone in their chosen professions or continued higher level academic studies.
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