Early voting on bond starts Monday

During his Wednesday media call, Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri reminded residents that early voting for the May 7 $398,255,000 bond starts April 25.

The location is the Ector County Annex, 1010 E. Eighth St. Muri said hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. On May 2 and 3, hours will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Election Day, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Muri said there was an ECISD Live Thursday on the bond that was available on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The bond has two propositions. Proposition A, for $215,255,000 would include maintenance and life-cycle repairs/replacement for school district buildings; construction of a new career and technical education center ($70 million). This would include classroom and lab space for programs like welding, construction, health science, automation and process technology, HVAC, plumbing and others.

It would cover an estimated 150,000 square feet and include furniture, fixtures, and equipment.

Proposition A would also include classroom technology upgrades ($15 million). This would include classroom and/or campus audio, visual and a multimedia refresh or additions, the ECISD website detailed.

Proposition B would include $183,000,000 for a new comprehensive high school.

The high school, which would be 6A, would be designed for 2,500 to 2,800 students, cover about 400,000 square feet and include furniture, fixtures, and equipment, the site said.

Odessa and Permian high schools have about 4,000 students each and are overcrowded.

In answer to questions raised by the Ector County Republican Party about the bond issue, Muri said Wednesday that 440 full-time students attend George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa.

“But … we have another 750 students that transition in and out of there every single day, taking their career and technical education courses, so well over 1,000 kids are in that building every single day taking courses,” Muri said.

Chief Communications Officer Mike Adkins said about 150 students from Midland County attend ECISD schools. Asked if they pay tuition, Muri said money follows the child in Texas.

“… So if a student from any other county attends school in ECISD, the dollars from the State of Texas that are used to fund that child, those dollars follow the kid,” Muri said.

“In ECISD, it costs approximately $9,300 per year to educate a child … We only allow students from other counties to attend ECISD if we have space. They have to request a school, and if there is space available in the school that they’ve requested then we allow them to come in. But if there is no space available, then no students are eligible to come in,” he added.

There also are ECISD students that attend school in other counties.

“So just as students from other communities come into our community, students in our community also attend school outside of Ector County ISD. But dollars follow the child wherever the child goes to school …,” Muri said.

On the location of the high school at Yukon and Faudree roads in northeast Odessa, Muri said a demographic study conducted by Davis Demographics two years ago, showed that area had the greatest growth.

“… We only build schools for students in Ector County and the school was placed in the location … in which the demographic study indicated that the majority of future students will be living,” Muri added.

He said there is additional growth in the southern and western part of the community.

The bond committee recommended that ECISD build a second high school in the northeast and one in the south and west area to handle “the significant growth in our community.”

“But our community said we have to keep the dollar amount below $400 million and that simply doesn’t allow us to build two high schools. The biggest priority was in the northeast corner because that’s where the majority of students are moving to in the future …,” Muri said.

On the finance side, Muri said Texas designed the current school finance systems to contain “two pots of money.”

“One pot of money is the maintenance and operations side and that is the day-to-day operation of the school district. … All employees are paid out of that. … There is a maintenance allocation that is in those funds that we use to do the type of maintenance that one would do around your house. We make sure that our facilities are kept in good condition. We do regular, routine maintenance on our HVAC systems (and) on our electrical systems that we have,” Muri added.

“The other pot of money … the I and S money is the bond side. That pot of money was designed by the state of Texas for schools to use for significant maintenance projects; not the day-to-day maintenance, but it’s more the lifecycle replacements,” he added.

The $130,000,000 in the bond referendum is for lifecycle replacements of equipment, plumbing and electrical work.

“We need to replace the plumbing infrastructure in multiple schools in ECISD; the electrical infrastructure needs to be replaced in multiple schools; the HVAC systems need to be replaced in multiple schools and the state has designed our funding system so that the bond side can take care of those major investments and the maintenance and operations side of our budget is to take care of the minor repairs,” Muri said.

Passage of the tax ratification election in 2018, added almost $1 million more dollars to ECISD ongoing maintenance efforts, he said.

“In fact, I think something interesting that our community should know is when the engineers did a facility study they actually complimented the district on the significant maintenance efforts of our custodians, of our maintenance department because they found our buildings to be in good condition …,” Muri said.

Muri said the Wall Street Journal featured an article this week on tutoring that is happening nationwide and the significant amounts of federal money school districts are spending to invest in tutoring for students.

“ECISD was lifted up as one of the exemplars in this effort across the country. As many know, we are currently serving 6,000 students in ECISD with virtual one-on-one tutoring,” Muri said. “The program that has been established by our teachers and administrators is proving to be effective for our students, and again, lifted up as an exemplar for others across the country to follow.”

He said he is excited about the good work of ECISD teachers and leaders to create this opportunity for students.

“… I want to lift them up today and congratulate them on a job well done and certainly their work has been highlighted because of the effect it is having on the students that we serve,” Muri said.

“We started with 40 students two years ago in a virtual tutoring program at one school and then scaled this year to serve 6,000 students at the elementary, middle school and high school level. …,” he added.