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Wednesday, June 16, 2010 - 7:15pm
One day after voters shot down a tax hike, El Paso Independent School District leaders are left with a tough decision: what to cut. Close to 14,500 people voted in the election and unofficial results showed sixty-two percent of voters rejected the tax.
While school district officials are not yet sure what cuts they will need to make, they are sure that they face serious decisions in the next few months.
Gregory Rocha, an associate professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, specializes in political science. In his class today he discussed what went wrong with the proposed tax hike with his students.
"The burden rested with the district to demonstrate they needed the increase and they deserved the increase and that's a very, very difficult thing to do," Rocha said.
But EPISD superintendent, Dr. Lorenzo Garcia, says they do need it. Now, he has no choice but to make cuts.
"We have been reducing budgets: 29 million over the last four years," Garcia said. He also said the attacks on the school district from Senator Eliot Shapleigh really hurt them, and that they are politically motivated.
"I can say he certainly didn't help the students of El Paso," Garcia said.
But in a phone interview, Shapleigh said it has nothing to do with his career and the tax increase would not have helped students like district officials say.
"There is absolutely no proof that he would have put that money in the classrooms," Shapleigh said.
Shapleigh also accused the district of cheating. He said that officials from schools like Bowie High School told some students to stay home on standardized test days in order to improve the school's scores. But even if Shapleigh hadn't come out against the tax hike, Professor Rocha said it was just bad timing to ask people to pay more in this economy.
"This is a tough time to ask voters to do that," Rocha said.