A plan to offer the first six semester credit hours to high school students free and increasing scholarship money for students to take more dual credit courses was announced by Odessa College officials during an Ector County Independent School District meeting.
Odessa College President Gregory Williams said a year ago OC began a 5 Commitments campaign to enhance education, which included making 1,000 presentations to Ector County students, parents and educators during the academic school year.
This is part of an initiative to “grow and sustain a college-going, career-attaining culture in the Permian Basin,” the OC website said.
Williams said 875 presentations have been conducted. The college also hired personnel to work in the middle and high schools.
On separate topics, ECISD board members discussed the possibility of having a tax ratification election in June or September and another bond election.
The TRE trustees discussed would be for 8 cents per $100 valuation, which would generate approximately $11 million and bring the total tax rate to $1.23 per $100 valuation. It is currently $1.15 per $100 valuation.
For the TRE, Superintendent Tom Crowe listed priorities such as:
- Fifty buses that need replacing at a cost of $100,000 each or $5 million. The regular replacement schedule has been put on hold for the past couple of years due to budget limitations, the board recap said.
- Roofs damaged by hail in 2016 and 2017, which comes to $13 million in deductibles, the recap said.
- Raises for all employees. Two percent would cost $4 million; 2.5 percent would be $6 million; and 3 percent would cost $8 million. Only teachers and bus drivers have gotten raises in the past two years while insurance costs for employees have gone up.
- Fiber network at a cost of $4 million to ECISD.
- Technology equipment upgrades for $1 million.
- Secure, access-controlled entrances at all schools. This would cost $300,000 for all the campuses that don’t have controlled access currently. Eleven schools currently have controlled access.
- Thirteen police vehicles to be replaced that were damaged by the hail storm at a cost of $433,000.
- Eight new portables for projected student enrollment growth at a cost of $500,000.
- And campus allotments replaced after cuts last year at a cost of $2 million.
- In November 2017, a $291,172,291 bond and a tax ratification election failed and some of the current needs were included in that bond.
- On the bond issue, 61.81 percent of people voted against the bond and 38.19 percent voted for it, or 4,442 against and 2,744 in support.
- On the tax ratification election, 60.04 percent, or 4,312 people voted against it, and 39.96 percent, or 2,870, were for it.
- People who would serve on a community committee for a bond have been recommended.
- Chief Financial Officer David Harwell said a tax ratification election would cost the district $80,000. The district has already received a $25,000 bill to re-mail appraisal notices after the November tax election failed.