THE ECONOMIST: Emergency! Odessa faces a crossroads

Our decision in the upcoming school bond election will define our future (no exaggeration!).

The economic case is straightforward. As we transition into a climate-sensitive era, energy resources in the Permian Basin are critical. The latest government forecast indicates that the world will require 30% more oil and gas in 2050 than today, while wind and solar use explodes. Our area has the lowest carbon onshore oil on the planet; demand will gravitate this direction.

We are also an emerging center of renewable energy. Beyond the clean resources far beneath our feet, we are blessed with blowing wind and sun shining brightly on vast land expanses. Our energy will fuel economic expansion lifting billions of people across the globe from poverty (no exaggeration!).

These enormous endowments are meaningless, however, unless we development our greatest asset — the kids who depend on our public schools for their ultimate success. My analysis shows that the region will need 50,000 SKILLED workers by 2050 to sustain growth and replace retirees. The students that we educate today are the workforce supporting energy, healthcare, and other sectors tomorrow.

Since arriving over 30 years ago, I have seen our community as a caring and compassionate environment. We possess resiliency stemming from a century of economic gyrations that fosters a spirit of cohesion in trying circumstances. We have seen our character dramatically revealed of late responding to a tragic mass shooting and a disruptive pandemic that claimed over 700 of our citizens.

Unfortunately, these traits are less obvious in supporting our schools. Our oldest buildings date to Pearl Harbor; high schools to the Eisenhower Administration. They lack the technology to deliver the education that a changing world demands. Hundreds of students are denied career training in needed occupations due to capacity constraints.

Our high schools are chronically overcrowded. Class changes are an hourly crush of humanity, inevitably compromising safety and inhibiting learning. Students often find themselves in portable buildings that blanket every inch of many campuses or taught by dedicated instructors who haul materials in a backpack. We should be better than this!

Despite these limitations, our schools are demonstrating notable accomplishments. For progress to continue, we must invest in essential facilities. Doing otherwise is eating our seed corn.

This bond proposal meets the most urgent from a long roster of needs. It facilitates achieving our economic potential and, far more importantly, affords our kids the opportunity they deserve to become the homegrown workforce, citizens, and leaders of our future. It is a down payment on our destiny!

The resources afforded by our support are far from a luxury. They go well beyond even a necessity. They are (no exaggeration!) an EMERGENCY! Vote “Yes!”