El Paso TimesTo my family, friends, and neighbors in the Franklin community:I have spent the last several weeks talking to many of you about the upcoming bond election; I’ve listened carefully to your concerns and frustrations, answered questions and tried to provide the information you need to make an informed decision. I appreciate all who make an effort to be informed participants in this voting process.As a taxpayer with several children and family members in the Franklin feeder pattern, I agree with many of your concerns and frustrations. A tax increase is never preferred and our property taxes are significant; we all wanted to see more for our area on the current bond proposal.Because our facilities are newer than most in the district, this consolidation/reconstruction doesn’t push many projects in our direction. While this is frustrating, I also understand why it is necessary, and I want to articulate why I’m voting “Yes” in the upcoming bond election.The past several years, I have learned much about our education system. I’ve watched my brother-in-law, our superintendent, and other board members work tirelessly to properly manage our limited funds and provide a first-rate education for every student in our large district.I’ve advocated for reform to our state assessment system and I’ve had the opportunity to work with several amazing Texans on education advocacy work. I have come to appreciate public schools and all they do for every child in the state of Texas.Simultaneously, I’ve watched our state Legislature turn their backs on public education over and over and over again. The state has chosen to focus on high-stakes standardized testing while reducing funding for public schools, and the results have been disastrous for local districts.Texas faces some unique challenges, with a high percentage of minority and economically disadvantaged students. El Paso is an area where these challenges are magnified, but our district has worked to overcome such difficulties.I’m excited about many of the programs EPISD has implemented over the last couple of years.The PowerUp program is giving all high school students access to technology skills that are mandatory in our knowledge-based 21st-century economy. Our students have the opportunity to learn basic computer skills, email usage, Microsoft Office, Adobe programs, cloud storage, and digital citizenship.Under the bond, this successful program will be rolled out to all middle schools.The district is expanding its magnet program offerings to give students more options closer to home. My daughter is attending New Tech at Franklin High School. This program has completely changed her outlook on school and has improved her performance in school. I want more students to have access to successful programs like New Tech.I appreciate the fact that our district is working to improve our deplorable facilities conditions. Every student in EPISD deserves to be in a safe, comfortable learning environment, that gives them access to the tools needed to succeed in our current economy. Our teachers deserve to work in updated facilities with proper heating/cooling, security, and technology.The consolidation plan would also free up much-needed funds in our annual budget to provide teacher raises and invest in student programs.Currently the needs are greater in other areas of the district, and this time I’m willing to give more than I’m getting, because education provides its own return on investment. I’m willing to invest an extra $25 a month, because I believe education can change our world.I don’t believe in entitlement programs, but I do believe in empowerment programs that give all children the opportunity to rise above their current circumstance. I hope you will consider voting “yes” with me on Nov. 8. “Yes” to our city’s future, “yes” to believing in the power of education, and “yes” to El Paso’s children.Tiffany Hatch is a parent in the El Paso Independent School District.
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