Superintendents’ summit set for May

The Permian Strategic Partnership and Education Partnership of the Permian Basin are joining forces to present a superintendents’ summit with district chiefs from West Texas and Eastern New Mexico.

The gathering will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 5 at the Bush Convention Center in Midland.

Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri and TJ Parks, Hobbs Municipal Schools superintendent are acting as point people for the event.

A PowerPoint presentation during the virtual meeting said the meeting will feature strategic planning focused on system level plans that will help districts effectively address the unfinished learning of students and strategic planning for use of one-time federal funding.

Muri said Texas and New York are the only two in the country that have not released CARES dollars to their school districts.

In those three tranches of funds, Muri said there is education funding. He added that districts across the country are waiting for those funds to address learning loss.

The total funding, Muri said, would be about $100 million for ECISD over the next three years. This is one-time funding that can be used not only to address learning loss, but for new ventilation systems for schools and personal protective equipment.

He added that this is a chance to talk about the right kind of strategic investments for students.

PSP Chief Executive Officer Tracee Bentley said this is a rare opportunity, but hopefully it will be the first of many. “I can’t think of two better leaders to lead this great opportunity,” she said.

Bentley added that she wants to hear about what they’re thinking.

Vega, executive director of the Education Partnership, said what’s exciting is this could help transform the landscape of education in this region.

Muri said advocacy is important right now to free up the federal funds.

The fear is that the state will use the federal funds to replace already designated state funds.

Jim Nelson, chair of the Texas Impact Advisory Council, said he thinks it’s unlikely this will happen, but it’s important to advocate for the districts through local lawmakers. Nelson, who has been a Texas Education Agency commissioner and interim superintendent at ECISD, said it’s important that local communities have control over this funding and spend it wisely.

“That’s the reason for this May 5 meeting is so we can talk about how to wisely invest these dollars,” Muri said.

He noted that the ECISD Board of Trustees in March passed a resolution urging lawmakers to let the federal funds flow to Texas school districts.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, was the launch of the Grow Our Own Action Network.

The three chairs include Jonathan Fuentes, executive dean of Academic Partnerships at Odessa College, Courtney Wardlaw, public and government affairs advisor, Permian Division of XTO Energy, and Lisa Wyman, senior vice president credit union development and human resources at Complex Community Federal Credit Union.

Just before COVID-19 hit, the Grow Our Own concept was endorsed at the last meeting of the leadership team held at the Sewell Auto Tech building. The idea is to prepare students for not only automotive technician positions, but teaching, healthcare, athletic training and other fields.

“We’re really excited to get to work,” Fuentes said. “We’re meeting with the executive committee of the Education Partnership” to determine their service area.

“All of us are very passionate about the work we’re going to do in the Permian Basin and we look forward to working with you,” Fuentes said.