Bueno named to new leadership role

San Jacinto Elementary School Principal Erin Bueno was named an executive director of leadership for Ector County ISD at a recent board workshop.

Bueno will start July 1 and replace Andrea Martin who is retiring. After an executive session, the board voted for the appointment unanimously with Board Secretary Steve Brown and Vice President Tammy Hawkins making the motion and seconding it, respectively, at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s an honor to be given this opportunity to serve the staff and students in ECISD,” Bueno said after the meeting.

The board recap said Bueno spent the past three years as the principal of San Jacinto Elementary School, and before that she was the assistant principal there for four years. She helped lead San Jacinto from an Improvement Required campus that was reconstituted to a grade of “B” from the Texas Education Agency. She also served five years in instructional coaching.  

Superintendent Scott Muri announced that the district would be nominating the board for the Texas School Board of the Year award.

“Even if we don’t win, it’s an honor,” President Delma Abalos said.

ECISD Board President Delma Abalos is sworn in by District Judge James Rush before the start of the board of trustees meeting Tuesday evening. (Courtesy Photo)

Over the next several weeks, Muri said, they will be gathering information from board members.

“You deserve it,” Muri said. “You don’t often have boards that are this collaborative that allow us to do good work.”

On standard attire for Burnet Elementary School, the board had questions about the process, so Muri said the item will be brought back for the regular board meeting next Tuesday.

Board members who were up for election May 1 were sworn in Tuesday.

Running unopposed were Brown, Abalos and Nelson Minyard. Chris Stanley won out over challenger Jesse Christesson.

In the public comment part of the meeting, Javier Ruiz, president of Ector County Texas State Teachers Association, congratulated Stanley on his re-election to the school board. He also talked about the proposed raises for employees, federal stimulus money for public school districts and plans to use those federal dollars to improve student achievement.  

Ruiz said he wanted his organization to have a voice in that planning.

In his opening remarks, Muri gave trustees a brief update on some of the academic progress made this year. Looking at MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) assessments from the spring semester, district-wide scores show the median growth percentile to be a 52 overall; a 57 in math; and a 47 in reading, the board recap said.

He explained that the 50th percentile represents average growth during an average school experience. Approaching 60 is remarkable. Of course, he added, this was not an average year. Broken down in more detail, the recap said data shows many ECISD students grew more in the second semester than they did in the first semester, which is the opposite of typical trends. He said there is much cause for celebration, yet, still a lot of work to do to ensure students have an excellence educational experience every day.

>> Trustees received a report from the Transportation Department. A staff of more than 150 operates and maintains a fleet of 185 buses and 10 SUVs used for student and staff travel. Using money approved by voters in the 2018 Tax Ratification Election, the department has purchased 29 new buses and has leased-to-own another 30, putting 59 new buses in rotation since the TRE, the recap said.

ECISD buses travel more than 1.5 million miles each year just running routes to and from school (6,200 students); another 300,000 are covered for extra-curricular activities; and the District spends about $670,000 for fuel each year. This year, due to COVID, the number of passengers on buses has been limited, and the District increased bus sanitizing and hand sanitizing for all riders.

The department is recommending the addition of Live GPS on buses to help with routing and with safety. If adopted, the GPS app would allow parents to confirm their child is on the bus, and to be able to track the bus as it moves through town. Adding WiFi to trip buses is another project the department would like to pursue in the future, the recap said.

>> The board also heard a report on the improvement plans for Nimitz Middle School. Nimitz was rated “Met Standard” by the state until receiving a “D” rating in 2018-19. Because of the pandemic, accountability ratings have been suspended since then. Showing end-of-year MAP data (student benchmark tests given three times per year), Nimitz students showed growth beyond expectations in both math and English Language Arts in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The use of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), professional development for school leaders, and the use of the Opportunity Culture model are ways Nimitz is growing professionally and improving its work for students, the recap said.

>> In his legislative update, Muri told trustees there is a process involved in applying for ESSER 3 funds ($55.9 million for ECISD) and ECISD has started it. He added there is still no word on ESSER 2 money, though it is evident that some of the money is being built into proposed bills.

Muri said he would not be surprised if a final decision is not made during this legislative session. He added, HB 4545 was voted down, and he felt that was good because it contained a lot of restrictions on local decision-making, and new accountability discussions could mean “look back” consequences for schools who were rated a D or F as far back as 2015, the recap said.