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Concerned about enrollment, La Joya ISD may declare financial emergency

Faced with declining enrollment, the La Joya Independent School District may declare a financial emergency.

During a school board meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Trustee Roberto Zamora recommended that La Joya ISD declare “financial exigency” — a financial emergency — and create a plan to address the problem.

“It’s a sensitive issue,” said Zamora, a widely respected former superintendent who joined the board on June 8. “But at what point in time do we talk about it?”

Financial exigency occurs when the “financial position of the District as a whole is such that the financial resources of the District are insufficient to support existing academic programs or the District is unable to finance the full compensation of staff for the current or succeeding fiscal year,” according to a standard policy reviewed by the board on Wednesday.

A school district may declare financial exigency when a natural disaster strikes, the general fund takes a major hit or enrollment drops more than 10% over a five-year period, among other circumstances.

Texas funds school districts based in part on average daily attendance. Fewer students results in less state funding.

Enrollment at La Joya ISD dropped 16% from October 2017, when the district had nearly 28,800 students, to October 2021, when the district had nearly 24,200 students, according to data published by the Texas Education Agency.

The number of employees on the La Joya ISD payroll remained steady while enrollment dropped.

La Joya ISD employed about 4,300 people during the 2017-2018 school year, according to information reviewed by the school board on Wednesday.

By the 2021-2022 school year, enrollment had dropped 16%. La Joya ISD, though, still had nearly 4,100 employees.

An infusion of federal COVID-19 funding will buy La Joya ISD breathing room next year. When the COVID-19 money runs out, La Joya ISD may be forced to make difficult choices.

“We’ve got to plan ahead,” Zamora said. “We’ve got to look at everything we’re doing.”

Declaring financial exigency would send a message that La Joya ISD is serious about fixing the long-term financial problem created by declining enrollment.

It also would allow La Joya ISD to cut salaries, furlough employees or conduct a “reduction in force” — a type of layoff that reduces costs by eliminating positions.

A reduction in force, however, would be a last resort for La Joya ISD. The district wants to eliminate positions through attrition when employees retire or resign.

“So, as of right now, if I’m still in that position, I still have a job,” said Trustee Espie Ochoa. “But if I decide to leave the district, then my position closes.”

The board may vote on a resolution to declare financial exigency next month.


  1. Roel Benavides on June 23, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Declining enrollment? I say it’s more like uneducated people making $ 70,000 – $ 120,000 just because they were hire by the now indicted and unindicted school board members and their puppets. Central Office and maintenance workers positions need to be downsized, salaries adjusted, and work for what they were hired to do. The COVID money disappeared, or was used to pay others, so declining enrollment is only a very small part of your problem.

    • DJackmon on June 23, 2022 at 6:24 pm

      The problem is the community, Hispanic families are not sending their children to school. I just moved to this area and I see kids outside playing when they should be in school. Many parents allow their children to be out at night early morning 1-2 o’clock in the morning hanging outside playing. Some parents aren’t working in the household sucking up the life of the welfare system, not paying taxes. Most of these parents don’t work, making cash money items on the street corner, so they won’t have to pay taxes. Solution is to close the school bus the kids to another school problem resolved. Texas look into that before you start sending money to people that don’t even deserve. I’m required to work and pay taxes. Why should I have to pay for this school district when the parents don’t care to send their kids to school not only that they’re not paying any taxes. I’m moving as soon as I can I’m not going to live amongst these lazy people that snub their nose at the United States of America as though they’re living in Mexico.

      • Hhm on June 23, 2022 at 9:28 pm

        Sounds like a good idea for you to leave the area. We really don’t need any more xenophobic racists in the area. All of your points are completely lost by your hatefulness. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

      • NativeChicana on June 23, 2022 at 9:42 pm

        Wow. You are absolutely correct, you moved into a community where you were finally able to see racial disparity first hand. Sadly, you are running from it because you can’t handle it and you have no clue what it is to live in it. Shame on you for falling into the same stereotypical persona of those who have been privileged. Here in the RGV, we fight just to be able to struggle. The problem here, is closed minded people like you. I pray your children have abundant blessings in their education.

        • Mmr on June 24, 2022 at 8:03 am

          Well we can obviously see you are not a native of the RGV. If you were you would know that LJISD is full of theifs. The only reason LJISD is facing all this trouble is because every single year they embezzle MILLIONS of $$$ that’s the problem Sir. I pay my property taxes half of that money is for LJISD. Do not speak on something you have no knowledge about. Simple as that.

        • Roel Benavides on June 24, 2022 at 10:23 am

          Go back to your ghetto

      • Geesus on June 24, 2022 at 1:08 am

        And what are you DJackmon? A negro? All they do is eat fried chicken and suck on them food stamps. Or a white trash that chews tobacco and kisses their sister? Or Chinese that only brings CuhRona Virus

      • LCC on June 24, 2022 at 11:15 am

        What a ridiculous, delusional rant. Nobody wants your kind here, so leave as soon as possible, clown.

      • CAGN on June 25, 2022 at 11:10 am

        Then leave,

  2. NativeChicana on June 23, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Hopefully, they’ll teach you a thing or two.

  3. koolarrow on June 25, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    Everyone get a grip. Folks have a 1st amendment right to speak their mind, no matter how jaded and ignorant. Casting insults around only makes any situation worse.

    IDEA, VANGUARD ACADEMY, parochial schools, home schooling, and private schools have a major impact on enrollment at every ISD. Demographics such as education, income, inflation, supply and demand, employment, wage stagnation, and proximity to an international border also add to the temptation to go somewhere else.

    All of us experienced a vicious blow from 2+ years of a worldwide pandemic and we survived that.

    Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

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