Board approves bond committee

A bond committee and its composition were approved by the Ector County ISD Board of Trustees during their meeting Tuesday.

Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Howard said the first meeting would be called in July and the committee will bring recommendations back to the school board in December for a possible May 2022 bond election.

The board would have until February to call an election.

Howard said they are looking at about 130 committee members, some of whom will be returning facilities review committee members.

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees approved the 2021-22 budget during their meeting Tuesday night.

The budget year starts July 1. The board is required to approve three funds.

The general fund is $314,485,610; the school nutrition fund is $18,705,494; and the debt service fund is $19,250,666.

The total tax rate will remain at $1.17792 per $100 valuation. The maintenance tax will be $1.05170 and the debt service will be .12622 cents.

The average market value of a home this year is $218,000. The average taxable value of residences is $148,000 because of various exemptions, Chief Financial Officer Deborah Ottmers said.

About 80 percent of the budget is payroll and about 60 percent is for direct instruction, which is about average for the state. Ottmers said it ranges from 55 to 65 percent.

Starting teacher salary was raised to $57,000. Four years ago, it was $44,500, the board recap said.

The recap said everyone on the teacher pay scale will get $1,800 with additional adjustments at Steps 1-10; a 4% general pay increase at midpoint for hourly employees (increased hourly minimum to $12); a 3% general pay increase at midpoint for exempt (non-hourly) employees; a $750 Invest in Talent Stipend for all those employed on the first day of instruction in August, utilizing General Fund-fund balance or ESSER funds (federal coronavirus relief funds) as allowable.

The pay increases will cost about $7.4 million, the recap said.

Built into the debt service budget for next year is the early payment of $5.5 million in bond payments which will ultimately save the district about $2.5 million in future interest payments, the recap said.

On a separate item, trustees held a public hearing on the application of Nacero TX 1 LLC for appraised value limitation on qualified property, pursuant to Chapter 313 of the Texas Tax Code.

Chapter 313 agreements were created by the 2001 Texas Legislature to allow communities to attract specifically defined companies/projects through limiting the school district’s maintenance and operations (daily operations) taxable valuation for 10 years.

The agreement remains fully taxable for interest and sinking (debt service) tax purposes at all times, the board recap said.

The agreements stipulate the school district cannot be financially worse off by entering into the agreement. The Nacero TX 1 LLC project is valued at about $7 billion. Nacero Chief Operating Officer Hal Bouknight told trustees the company has 2,600 acres in Penwell on which to build this first-of-its kind (in the U.S.) plant that will convert natural gas into gasoline in a more environmentally friendly way; sulphur-free and with a smaller carbon footprint.

He said construction would require 3,500-4,000 workers over the next several years, and about 350 full time jobs once it is completed and functioning, the recap said.
Bouknight said the company hopes to be involved in the school district and offer coop experiences to students. They also plan a visitors center so people can watch the facility being built, for example.

The board also approved Zenovia Crier as the principal of LBJ Elementary School. Communications Officer Mike Adkins said she comes to Odessa from Houston ISD where she served as dean of instruction/technologist for the past 10 years, the recap said.
In that role, the recap said, she assisted principals in educating and training staff on implementing academic standards.

Crier is also a professor at Concordia University where she works with teacher candidates. She has worked as an elementary school teacher, reading tutor and as a volunteer teacher providing English as a Second Language to adult immigrants. She holds a doctor of education (Education Administration) from Texas A&M Commerce.