Education Partnership gets Grow Our Own update

Grow Our Own, one of the newer committees under the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin, is busy gathering data to figure out next steps.

This was one of several committee reports shared in an Education Partnership of the Permian Basin Zoom meeting Tuesday.

Grow Our Own focuses on strengthening educational pathways and experiences for students that are parallel to the workforce needs of Permian Basin businesses.

“We’re in that exploratory phase, that data gathering stage and wanted to just share those updates on what we’ve done so far,” said Jonathan Fuentes, one of the chairpersons of the committee.

Fuentes, who is executive dean of academic partnerships at Odessa College, said they have met with dual credit officials at the three community colleges, Odessa, Midland and Howard, plus University of Texas Permian Basin.

Fuentes said the colleges and university would meet to see what the dual credit landscape looks like, gathering information for the school district partners that they serve and what’s needed to help it move forward as it will play a big role in helping them meet the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60×30 challenge.

60x30TX was launched in 2015 with “a clear and bold vision: to be among the highest-achieving states in the country,” its website said.

“60x30TX is a roadmap to help Texas reach that future through higher education to be among the highest-achieving states in the country,” the site said.

“We’re exploring CTE, too, so we met with Carla Byrne from ECISD and also Ryan Merritt from Region 18. We had some great conversations about what are the programs that need to be served, what are the needs, what are the marketing needs … What are we doing to promote a lot of the programs that are critically needed by our economy and by our workforce? We’re actually in the process of developing a survey for CTE directors across the region to determine the needs,” Fuentes said.

He added that he expects the plan to be developed in the next couple of weeks and rolled out to school district partners.

They also are exploring the idea of Promise Scholarships. Plans are for people from the area to attend the PromiseNet Conference Nov. 8-9 in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Fuentes said Kalamazoo has one of the most well known Promise programs. Fuentes said it’s hoped that what is learned at the conference will be brought back to the Permian Basin.

Fuentes said the committee also has discussed the educator pipeline, how to expand it, how to create more and how to widen them.

“We’ve looked at a host of different solutions, but we’ll certainly be reaching out to the ISDs to talk about what the needs are and then how we get there together. We’re waiting for all the data to come together before we start rolling out recommendations,” Fuentes said.

Adrian Vega, executive director of the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin, said the group is part of the Texas Impact Network.

“We’re one of eight total backbone organizations, so specifically as a reminder, the Texas Impact Network was formed to help school districts roll out and implement House Bill 3 initiatives successfully. The two big ones are the Teacher Incentive Allotment and then also the College Career and Military Readiness outcomes bonus. There are legislative dollars tied to both those initiatives, so (when) districts implement these efforts … more funding will come back to them. There was also a third one, the additional day school calendar which I think both MISD and ECISD are participating in,” Vega said.

Vega said MISD is cohort D on the Teacher Incentive Allotment and ECISD is cohort C.

“So ECISD was a year ahead, which meant last year was their implementation year; their data gathering year. Now they’re going to be submitting data or scores for Texas Tech to review. … This year, I think they’re going to be able to distribute that additional compensation,” Vega said.

He added that he thinks Greenwood ISD is also taking part.

“From a retention perspective and a recruitment perspective, it’s a significant opportunity for teachers in our area,” ECISD Superintendent Scott Muri said. “… At the end of this year, we’ll look at data. The money arrives in early fall, so next August or September we’ll be delivering really large checks to some teachers. We will have teachers in ECISD that will make over six figures next year for the very first time. That’s because of TIA and coupled with Opportunity Culture. Both of those together will push teachers beyond the six-figure amount. That’s something that certainly captures people’s attention and I know that it captures teachers’ attention. I can’t wait for that to happen,” Muri said.

According to its website, Opportunity Culture extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay within budget.

“Teachers gain time to plan and collaborate, everyone gets more support, and students get high-standards, personalized instruction,” the site said.

Vega added that ECISD and MISD are participating in Opportunity Culture. “UTPB is at the table with their residency program. There’s a lot going on that we’re working collaboratively to … change the landscape of the work out here in education for our region …,” Vega said.