Many options regarding elementary, middle and high schools in Ector County ISD were discussed during a community meeting with the district’s bond committee Thursday night at Permian High School.
The consensus indicated that replacement was needed as the average age of ECISD buildings is 50 years and there are some that are 80 years old. The bond committee will make recommendations to bring to the ECISD Board of Trustees in December, co-chairman Lorraine Perryman said.
By 2028 Buice Elementary School will have more students attending outside the building than inside. Also by 2028, Wilson & Young Middle School will have just as many students inside as outside, Superintendent Scott Muri said.
From the facility studies that have been done, Muri said Wilson & Young and Ector Middle School would have to be replaced.
All the middle schools are expected to remain near and/or over capacity.
Both high schools will continue struggling with population as both have about 4,000 students.
Some of choices discussed were ninth-grade centers, grade realignment with ninth and 10th grade campuses and 11th and 12th grade schools.
Educational villages with elementary, middle and high school on one site or a combination of two of them was also discussed.
Darrell Pearson of PBK Architects said this would need a minimum of 100 acres. Advantages would be efficiency due to shared facilities and support functions, a small town feel, ease of transition through all grade levels and one centralized location.
A choice Career and Technical Education center was another possibility. It could centralize CTE functions and programs in one location vs. replicating them across multiple campuses.
It would be less costly than a new comprehensive high school; require less land than a new comprehensive high school; and students could still have a home campus affiliation and participate in non-CTE activities and curses.
The impact of reducing overcrowding at the existing high schools would be dependent on student interest in participating in the programs at the choice campus.
ECISD has about 7,000 students in career and technical education.
If students stayed all day at the CTE center, it could offer courses to students in the teen parenting program and provide day care for those students and employees.
Both high schools are landlocked and one suggestion was adding another floor, however, the existing buildings probably couldn’t take that.
Building another high school, Pearson said, is probably the most costly option, but it would create the most capacity long term, reduce traffic congestion and allow more opportunity for student leadership and participation.
A new high school would require 70 to 75 acres and if it had 2,500 students that could grow to 3,000 and it would cost $145 to $150 million if you built it today, Pearson said.
A new middle school would out about $55 million and a new elementary school for 800 to 900 students would be $30 to $35 million, Pearson said.
Muri said construction could start in 2023, but some would begin in 2024 or 2025.
Renovating Odessa High School, for example would cost tens of millions, Pearson said.
Cindy McKeehan, a PHS English teacher, said past bond issues were piecemeal and the community needs to be educated that bond issues are here to stay.
McKeehan added that she taught at Lee Freshman High School in Midland and she would not want one in Odessa.
Muri said there are no older students to serve as role models for freshmen center students.