On Tuesday evening, members of the Odessans for Kids spoke to 14 community residents and members of Una Voz Unida about the ECISD bond election at Ector Junior High.
Throughout this month, members of the political action committee have been attending meetings throughout the community to talk to residents about why the community should support the $129.75 million bond.
Some of the attendees at the meeting, however, were not completely convinced.
After a brief introduction from the meeting leader Brooks Landgraf, a local attorney and PAC member, the session opened up to a question and answer portion. Throughout the meeting some of the attendees talked about past issues with the district’s low performance, which continues to trail the state.
Hector Mendez, ECISD superintendent, said this bond would not address all of the issues in the district, but it would address their issues with infrastructure and move the district to a middle school model. Mendez said even if the bond does not pass, the district would continue to work toward improving its performance.
“Facilities aren’t going to fix that,” Mendez said.
The meeting was organized by Art Leal, Una Voz Unida chairman. In days prior to the meeting, Leal said they posted a poll online where people could vote whether they were for or against the bond. He said through the poll and emails, they received about 37 votes, and the votes “were split down the middle.” Leal said he was not sure yet whether or not the board of Una Voz Unida would endorse the bond, but he thought the information presented was very informative.
“Overall the consensus I think is that we need this (bond),” Leal said after the meeting.
Arlo Chavira, a community member who attended the meeting, asked several questions during the meeting, ranging from how the PAC makes sure the district continues to move forward academically if the bond is passed and how could the money help the teachers.
At the end of the meeting, Chavira said despite the answers to his questions, he still was not sure how he would vote on the upcoming election.
“I’m leaning towards voting for the bond,” Chavira said, adding he still had reservations.
Chavira asked Landgraf what the PAC was doing to ensure that if the bond is passed, things like state accountability issues “will not be swept under the rug.”
Landgraf said some members of the PAC have already talked about that exact scenario. He said it is something some PAC members are interested in, continuing to work toward addressing all issues in the district after the election. Overall, Landgraf said he was pleased with the turnout and the questions that came from the meeting.
“You can’t have a successful bond pass without people being informed,” Landgraf said.
Linda Quiroz, a former spokesperson for a group supporting teachers and students in the district, expressed concerns at the meeting about the district’s low state performance She also talked about the district’s bilingual education department, which was classified as stage four for intervention and had a monitor from the Texas Education Agency visit the district in February. Despite many of her reservations with the district’s performance and the time frame the district had in calling for a bond and informing the community, Quiroz was in favor of the middle concept.
“We absolutely have to go to a middle school concept,” Quiroz said.
Chuck Isner, regional president for the Texas State Teachers Association and retired teacher from ECISD, attended the meeting and agreed that the middle school model was a must for the district.
“That’s one reason why I am so adamant in support of this bond,” Isner said.
Landgraf concluded the meeting and spoke about the driving factors for why he is in support of the bond because it would move the district to a middle school concept and meet the need for the district to have additional elementary space to address crowding happening particularly at the West Odessa campuses and in the north at Jordan.
“I think it’s a great investment for us to make,” Landgraf said.