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EPISD voters approve Penny Swap

Penny Swap news

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT – Nov. 7, 2018) -- Voters in the El Paso Independent School District on Tuesday approved a Penny Swap election that will allow the District to tap into $7.5 million in state matching funds without increasing the tax rate.   

The District had asked voters to consider moving 10 cents from the Interest & Sinking side of the tax rate to the Maintenance & Operation side.  The move, often referred to as a penny swap, triggers a mechanism in the Texas public-education funding formula that allows school districts to access additional funding.

EPISD’s tax rate will remain at $1.31 per $100 valuation, the same as it was last year. 

“Penny Swap elections are difficult to explain to the public, and we are happy that the taxpayers have understood our request and supported it,” said Superintendent Juan E. Cabrera. “In an election cycle that saw a historic turnout, it is especially exciting for us to receive the backing of the voters in the District.”

The measure, which was labeled Proposition A on the ballot, passed on Tuesday with nearly 54 percent of the vote.  A total of more than 42,300 voters supported the measure. In contrast, only about 7,000 voters voted in favor of the successful 2015 EPISD Penny Swap. 

EPISD will continue to meet its debt and fiscal responsibilities without altering bond payment schedules. Additionally, the district will now count with an extra $7.5 million it will use for several funding priorities. 

Nearly every employee of the District will receive a one-time stipend in their December paycheck.  Qualified full-time and full-time equivalent employees will receive a $750 stipend, while any qualified employee who works less than 20 hours a week will receive half of that amount. 

The $7.5 million in additional state funds will come to the District in perpetuity and could be used to continue EPISD’s innovative academic priorities like New Tech, International Baccalaureate and dual-language education. The funds also could be used to fund classroom technology and school safety measures.  

“We are very grateful to the voters in the District,” said EPISD Board President Trent Hatch. “We know their vote on Tuesday was a vote of confidence, and we will continue to put those funds to use in effective and high-quality programs for our children.”

Story by Gustavo Reveles