Director of Construction going full steam ahead

Chris Bartlett's job as director of construction for ECISD has him overseeing hundreds of projects mainly to do with renovations. He has previously done a variety of things from TV and newspapers to technology in the district. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

With all the different projects going on — and pending — with Ector County ISD’s bond issue, Chris Bartlett was called on to become director of construction.

In November 2023, voters approved one proposition of a three-proposition bond for $424, 263,000.

The total bond was $436,109,000.

Bartlett is working with the District Operations department, headed by Sam Magallan. The projects are expected to take five years, so Bartlett’s position will last that long.

He is primarily overseeing bond renovation projects.

Bartlett was previously technology services coordinator handling project management for the technology division.

“Whenever we did a new student information system, when we did our disaster recovery projects, those things, I would work with the different departments in the technology division, to make sure that those projects were successful; that we got done the things that we needed to get done,” Bartlett said.

He has since picked up a project management professional credential.

“You have to have three years of project management experience, you have to pass a test. It’s a whole thing to get that so whenever I was able to get that, it opened me up to this position,” Bartlett said.

He said the job is keeping things organized and tracking tasks, which is needed with a bond this large.

“It becomes kind of this like huge, expansive thing. So you want somebody whose job it is to organize that and make that digestible so that we can give our Bond Oversight Committee accurate information; we can give our board accurate information and so we can have accurate information,” Bartlett said.

He also is a point of contact for vendors who can pass information along to the person it needs to go to.

Although he is mainly over the renovation projects, Bartlett also helps out with the other projects such as the new career and technical education center, the Permian High School auditorium renovations and the new agricultural farm, all of which falls under operations.

“I help with those things. I sit in those meetings and answer questions, or provide any kind of technological expertise,” Bartlett said.

He said it’s not strange to be part of operations because he worked with them when he was in technology.

“It wasn’t really that big of of a jump. It made sense to me. I knew the people. I knew how to manage a project. I knew where we were going with things. I kept up with the bond. And also I just like to learn, so I just read about the different stuff,” Bartlett said.

He also has started to work with contractors and subcontractors on different projects.

“I’ve been able to kind of talk with them about their process and what they’re doing and that way we can better inform what the district needs,” Bartlett said.

Since his position is funded by the bond, his job is temporary, but he could jump to different roles. He added that being from this area, he really cares about it.

“There’s so much work to be done right now that I’m not looking past that. I’m trying to make sure that we get as much done as we can as quickly as we can and really do well with that because the bond was a big bond, and it was a good bond. It was much-needed bond. But we need to make sure that we get as much out of that as we can because there’s still so much,” Bartlett said.

His parents always worked in oilfield adjacent jobs. His dad was a machinist and his mom was in human resources and staffing. Growing up in that environment helped with his work ethic.

Initially, Bartlett worked in news, including time at the Odessa American, and later became an English teacher. From being an English teacher, he went to curriculum and instruction, then digital learning followed by technology. Education was always his goal.

“Actually news was kind of a sidestep for me. That wasn’t something that I had planned. I’ve worked at Big 2 as a morning show producer during college and then I’d also worked for the UTPB Mesa Journal, which was the paper. Our advisor was the Managing Editor at the OA at the time; it was Celinda Hawkins. … They needed a crime reporter at the time, and I said,yeah, as it pays more than what I get paid doing this so I did that,” Bartlett said.

But the plan was always to be an English teacher. He remembers watching a documentary when he was younger that talked about low literacy and graduation rates in an urban district.

Bartlett taught at Bowie when it was both a junior high and middle school. He is certified in seventh through 12th grade English language arts.

“I just remember it really affected me that there are people who can’t read or write. It was always something that I really enjoyed, reading. It really made me feel bad for them because it’s like they don’t get to enjoy this thing that I enjoy. The plan was to always become a teacher and to always do that. Once I became a teacher, other opportunities presented themselves. I was in the classroom for five years and that’s whenever the opportunity came to join curriculum and instruction and then it just kind of just moved up from there,” he added.

Magallan said they are excited to have Bartlett on their team.

“Chris led a variety of projects during his time with the technology department and due to the nature of some of those projects he worked closely with operations over the years. He really put forth a lot of effort into learning project management and building that skill set to effectively manage the projects he had on his plate,” Magallan said.

“We knew we were looking at well over 300 projects that varied in scope and needed someone who could bring a high level of organization to those projects and who would also be able to work closely with our current team and our vendors.

Chris had that experience along with being certified as a Project Manager Professional, which comes with some stringent requirements. We knew his credentials and experience would help us get off to a quick start.

“We truly believe that Chris will have a bright future with ECISD.”