Damage to facade cause for concern and safety of students

Rene Servin, Reporter

The El Paso Independent School District Board of Trustees had previously approved an architectural study of the El Paso High façade. This study was preformed by Nine Degrees Architecture, and Design with collaboration from Gensler which is based out of San Francisco.

The study cost was $456,200. The takeaway from this 290-page study is “As deterioration continues, the loss of features and elements may become a life safety issue-such as balusters falling from the balustrades onto the public right-of-way or public areas adjacent to the building.”

Last year, we had a story covering the bond and the work currently being done with the fine arts building and the tennis courts. We also touched upon the fact that EPISD refused to admit that the façade of El Paso High school was not part of the bond.

Even though we have demonstrated there had been written documents proving the word “façade” was mentioned in the bond documents. The El Paso High Alumni Association, specifically Amada Flores and Anna Mares who are the president and vice president of the association, have been leading the fight on the bond issue for the past three years.

On Oct. 1, the Alumni Association invited Texas State Rep. (D) Evelina Ortega to discuss this bond issue. The Alumni Association gave the audience an update on the issue of the façade. It appears that the school board is declining to address this life safety issue.

On Oct. 6, members of the Alumni Association were invited to KVIA’s ABC 7 Extra, a local show, to discuss the issue of the facade. Ms. Flores and Ms. Mares both participated in the show and the Superintendent of EPISD was a no show.

According to the study, the cost of the rehabilitation will be $15.3 million. It is now considered a Life Safety issue which means it is dangerous. Ms. Mares has stated that “It is an accident waiting to happen”. She has also stated that “It’s an immediate danger” and this needs to be funded.

It appears that the school board and the EPISD administration are willing to chance the safety of the students of El Paso High. Students need to be careful as they step out of the building because the next time something could be falling from the sky.