Board approves pay hikes, new principals

Pay increases for everyone from teachers to school nutrition staff are on the way in 2021-22 for Ector County ISD employees.

The ECISD Board of Trustees approved the bump during their meeting Tuesday night.

Additionally, the board approved Lindsey Lumpkin as principal of Downing Elementary and Tiffany Rickman as principal of Jordan Elementary.

Staci Ashley, executive director of HR, said ECISD is one of the few across the state that is providing 3 and 4 percent pay increases.

The total cost to the district will be about $7.4 million, the board recap said.

Starting salaries for teachers next year will be $57,000. Four years ago in 2017-18, ECISD’s starting teacher salary was $44,500.

The presentation showed that everyone will get $1,800 with additional adjustments at steps 1-10 on the teaching schedule; a 4 percent general pay increase at midpoint for hourly employees (increased to $12 an hour); and a 3 percent general pay increase at midpoint for exempt employees.

In addition, Ashley said the district contributes $380 per month for all eligible employees toward their health coverage.

It provides $10,000 in life insurance benefits.

Many additional options are available at group rates for dental, vision, disability and additional life insurance.

Added this year is an opportunity for loan forgiveness.

A summary of cost estimates includes:

>> Cost for teachers, librarians and nurses: $4.5 million.

>> Cost increase for technology, police: $189,636 based on the number of employees in those categories.

>> Cost increase for clerical support, auxiliary (including cafeteria), instructional support: $1.5 million.

>> Cost increase for administrative professionals: $1.155 million.
The presentation details that all cost increases include the general pay increase and the recommended adjustments.

Donna Ziriax, director of benefits and risk management, said the district hasn’t raised insurance rates in the last two years and doesn’t anticipate doing it this year.

Trustees voted 7-0 to approve an application for an appraised value limitation on qualified property from Quail Run Carbon, LLC. The recap said acceptance of the application does not bind the district into entering a contract with the applicant, but provides the option to consider the application and potential future contract for a Chapter 313 agreement for property value limitation and revenue. 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 ten years. The agreement remains fully taxable for debt service tax purposes at all times. The agreements stipulate the school district cannot be financially worse off by entering into the agreement. It is an evaluation process that is expected to take several months. The ECISD board approved two similar applications in February from Nacero TX 1, LLC and 1PointFive P1 LLC.

Muri said the application will go through a process, including a review by the comptroller’s office, and will come back to the board in a few months.

On purchases over $50,000, the district plans to spend $7,911,353 on athletic facility improvements.

Using Hellas Construction to complete a resurfacing turf package at Odessa and Permian High School and Ratliff Stadium and completion of new athletic facilities at Bonham, Wilson &Young, Bowie and Ector to match existing competition fields at Nimitz and Crockett middle schools.

The package also includes instillation of LED lighting at Bonham, Wilson & Young and Ratliff Stadium. All ADA requirements are included in the improvements.

Among other items, the purchases included Extreme Exteriors to complete district landscaping for $882,205; and roof replacement for Ratliff Stadium for $1,395,381.

The roof and the scoreboards were damaged during the hail storm of 2017 and were ruled a complete loss, supplemental agenda material said.

The project was put out for bid and garnered bids from two different roofing companies. L. Wallace Construction Company, Inc. was selected for the project because they were the low bidder and have done “quality work for the district on previous projects,” the material said.

Chief Financial Officer Deborah Ottmers said ECISD is anticipating 32,730 students for 2021-22, but anticipated attendance is 29,784. Anticipated total revenue is $308,290,124. Budget adoption will be in June.

This is about $1 million less than last time it was presented. Anticipated fund balance will go up $22 million to $111,585,291 because ECISD was paid for the students that were expected. There will be about $22 million in one-time expenditures in the budget. After that, the fund balance will be $89,429,291.

Ottmers said expenditures were limited and positions that were open weren’t filled because they didn’t have the students.

Muri said ECISD is investing in social-emotional learning of the 4,200 employees in ECISD.

Special presentations included recognition of executive directors of leadership Alicia Press and Roberto Cedillo for their acceptance into the National Superintendent’s Academy; the introduction of Shijay Sivakumar from Bowie Middle School as the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee champ; the announcement of the nine ECISD Memorial Scholarship recipients; and the presentation of the Top 10 graduates from each high school.

In his opening comments, Muri reminded Trustees that graduation season is upon us. The coming weekend will feature the Class of 2021 ceremonies for ECISD’s two early college high schools as well as the fulfillment of the promise to give the Class of 2020 a traditional graduation experience. He said it will be a busy and exciting Friday and Saturday. The following weekend will be three more ceremonies for the Class of 2021.
In other business, trustees:

>> Voted 7-0 to approve early pay off bus lease agreement. ECISD will pay $2,244,749.52 to end the lease agreement. Paying this lease off early will save tax payers $162,195 in future interest, and the District will fully own the 30 buses. The annual lease dollars are also now freed up for use for other District priorities. The lease was initiated in 2019, following voter approval of the Tax Ratification Election in November 2018. The replacement of aging buses was one of the key provisions of the TRE. The combination of purchased and leased buses has allowed ECISD to replace 59 aging buses with new buses since that TRE election, a much faster rate than the typical replacement schedule.

>> Voted 7-0 to approve an amendment to the current academic calendar. The Summer Learning Calendar for prekindergarten through fifth grade will be reduced to 27 days (June 7-June 30 and July 7–July 27)) and the Secondary Summer Learning Calendar will be reduced to 15 days (June 7– June 30).

>> Voted 7-0 to approve standard attire (uniforms) for Burnet Elementary School. Standard attire is being implemented as part of the RISE turnaround program going into effect at Burnet Elementary in 2021-22.