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Collins named military ex-officio member of EPISD Board of Trustees

Col. Collins

(EL PASO INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT Aug. 25, 2020) — Fort Bliss remains one of EPISD’s strongest partner in the effort to improve the lives of children in the community, and that tie between the District and the post is made stronger by the appointment of a U.S. Army officer to serve as an ex-officio member of the board of Trustees. 

Earlier this month, Col. James Collins was introduced as the fifth Fort Bliss leader to serve in this capacity.

Collins, commander of the 1st Armored Division Artillery, will sit in on board meetings – both live and virtual – to provide the board with guidance when issues arise affecting the District’s 6,000 students with ties to the military.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to represent the military families on the school board,” Collins said. “The outstanding relationship between Fort Bliss and the El Paso community is very apparent and the cooperation between EPISD and Fort Bliss is an outstanding example of that partnership.”

Collins attended his first board meeting on Aug. 11 prepared for his role to listen and inform.

“I am ready to share my feedback to the board members for issues that affect military children, while also, I am ready to help inform the Fort Bliss community regrading challenges or opportunities within EPISD,” he said.

The military has been part of Collins live for more than 40 years. He was commissioned as a field artillery officer through ROTC at The Citadel in 1997. Both his and his wife’s fathers were career military having served 30 years respectively, but in different branches: Collins’ dad in the army and his wife Amy’s father served in the navy.

“My father's service and my mother's love for the military were the main influences. Both of them were always very complimentary about the lifestyle the military provided,” Collins said. “In addition to the privilege of serving our nation, the army provided the opportunity to get graduate degrees. We traveled the world, and every three years met new acquaintances.  From a young age, I aspired to live a similar lifestyle that my parents enjoyed.” 

Collins and his wife, who have an 11-year-old daughter, moved to El Paso in June 2019.

“My family and I love everything about El Paso – from the culture, the food and the comradery,” he said. “We routinely meet retirees that decided to remain in El Paso after they separate from the military. I now know exactly why. Everything about the city and the community is ideal to raise a family.”

The Board of Trustees began the ex-officio tradition in 2013 with now retired Col. Alan Weirnicki, who joined EPISD as chief quality officer after retiring from Fort Bliss. Weirnicki also service as EPISD’s liaison to Fort Bliss.

“More than 10 percent of our students are military connected and our military families are such a diverse and valuable component of the fabric of EPISD,” Weirnicki said. “Having a senior leader from Fort Bliss on our board to represent the interests of that population is critical and serves to strengthen of our long-standing partnership.

Story by Reneé de Santos