‘Summer camp’ nets big numbers

Ector County ISD’s summer program kicks off June 7 and more than 6,000 students have signed up.

Superintendent Scott Muri said that is four times more than the district has had in its history.

“We’re excited to welcome all of those kids to summer programming, but it’s not too late. We encourage any of our families that are interested in summer programming to visit the ECISD website. You can do that and have access to that information. They can also visit their local school and find out about summer programming. We offer it pre-k through 12th grade. Elementary will occur in June and July; middle school and high school have a more specific programming design,” Muri said in his media call Wednesday.

He said he didn’t expect to use additional buildings because of the number of students.

He cited a couple of theories as to why so many youngsters have registered.

“… One of the primary (ones) is moms and dads realize that the unfinished learning of our students is real. Our kids are different. Learning was difficult this year and last year because of the pandemic and this has absolutely affected our kids,” Muri said. “We’re seeing those effects in our STAAR data. Our kids have taken the STAAR and EOC (end-of-course exams). We’re starting to analyze that data and we see the COVID slide. It’s real. I think our parents are also noticing that in their own children and want to make sure that their children can not only catch up … but get ahead.”

Muri added that the district also marketed the summer program differently this year.

“Our summer program is not going to be summer school in the traditional sense. We’re creating much more of a summer camp-like experience and we’ve marketed that to our families. So I think our marketing strategy coupled with … the changes we’ve made in our summer program have drawn more kids to the mix,” he added.

On a separate topic, Muri said the YMCA this week conducted a soft opening of its new facility that will be used to accommodate prek 3 year olds for ECISD next school year.

“… I was able to go over. The YMCA has really done some significant renovation work in their facility — new painting, new flooring, carpets in all the classrooms; new furniture is arriving. It’s really a great place for kids. Now we just need to put the kids in there, which we will do in August as we welcome a host of 3 year old students for the first time in ECISD. We partnered with the YMCA to educate our pre-k 3 year old students because we simply don’t have enough room. Our schools are so full we simply can’t take on that many more students. However, we realize it’s important to educate those kids. We’re excited to partner with the Y to bring pre-k 3 year old programming to ECISD for the first time,” Muri said.

Thursday was the last day of school for ECISD. Graduations are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Odessa High School graduates at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Ratliff Stadium and Permian High School follows Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

OCTECHS, Odessa Collegiate Academy and New Tech have all graduated.

Muri and other ECISD officials were out Tuesday celebrating “our of the years.”

“Two weeks ago we did our teachers of the year, principals of the year and assistant principals of the year and then yesterday (May 25) we recognized a host of other ‘of the years;’ Our custodian of the year, police officer of the year, maintenance employee of the year, counselor of the year, paraprofessional of the year, professional of the year; so a lot of folks in each of the categories have received some recognition. It was fun to be able to celebrate those folks, especially in the middle of this pandemic. Each type of employee in ECISD has experienced a different type of year this year because of the pandemic, COVID restrictions and everything else that’s gone on. It was a good opportunity to celebrate the great work of our folks,” Muri said.