Ector County Independent School District’s Falcon Early College High School will stay open, but what form it and the district’s other early college campuses will take is up for discussion.
ECISD Public Information Officer Mike Adkins said Superintendent Tom Crowe, University of Texas of the Permian Basin President Sandra Woodley and Odessa College President Gregory Williams are expected to meet this week to discuss the early college high schools.
Falcon is on the UTPB campus and offers students a chance to earn up to 60 college credits. OCTECHS (Odessa Career and Technical Early College High School) is on the Odessa College campus and offers students a chance to earn an associate degree while they earn their high school diploma.
Late last week, Adkins said posts on social media said Falcon was going to close. Adkins said a parent meeting was held June 7 to tell parents that the campus is not closing next year.
Adkins said Falcon ECHS Principal Lindsey Lumpkin has been reassigned to be an assistant principal at Permian High School.
Falcon ECHS and has been open about three years and will have about 300 students in the fall, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Roy Garcia said.
When Falcon was approved by the state, there was little time to recruit students and get the school open by fall, so the campus had fewer than 100 students when it opened, Adkins said.
OCTECHS also opened about three years ago and has had 100 or more students per grade ever year.
Adkins said ECISD’s agreement with UTPB for Falcon ECHSD has already been signed.
“We are committed to having the early college high schools,” Adkins said.
Garcia said the details of how the early college high schools will work in the future is being hammered out and he could not give specifics. After the meeting with Crowe, Woodley and Williams, Garcia said another parent meeting would be held.
Woodley declined an interview, but UTPB sent out a prepared statement.
“The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has been in preliminary discussions with Odessa College and the Ector County Independent School District to increase collaborative partnerships aimed at student success. We have recently announced multiple articulation agreements with OC to simplify and smooth out transfer policies. Collectively, our goal is to ensure that students in Ector County learn, graduate and secure good jobs,” the statement said.
“As part of these ongoing collaborations, we have also been exploring innovative partnerships with OC and ECISD related to the ECISD’s Falcon Early College High School. No decisions have been finalized and more work is needed to determine where these partnership discussions may lead related to the best interest of the students. All three partners are committed to ensuring the best opportunities for students,” the statement said.
“The most important message for students, families and teachers is that the ECISD’s Falcon Early College High School is not closing and classes will resume as planned this fall. We look forward to providing more information when our planning and research has been completed,” the statement said.
Garcia said the meeting June 7 was held to talk to parents and try and get in front of rumors on social media. The room where they met was full of parents, teachers and students, he added.
He said there will be more lead time for the next parent meeting.
Gene Powell is the parent of a Falcon ECHS student and was unable to attend the June 7 meeting. He has many questions about the school’s future. The thing that sold him on it was that his daughter could earn up to 60 college credits.
Powell said he didn’t know about the June 7 parent meeting until after it was over and the notice was given about 90 minutes before it was supposed to start.
He added that there had been no communication about the principal situation.
Powell said there is still no real cafeteria for the students and the facilities for the school have been halfway done and pieced together since it started.
“If it’s about money, why not shut down the IB program at Odessa High School?” Powell said.
The International Baccalaureate Program is “an academically challenging course of study designed to meet the needs of highly motivated students and to promote international understanding,” the program website said.
Powell said he’s concerned that the students who are sent to other schools will be on unfamiliar campuses and have a chance of being ostracized because “teenagers are cruel.”
“It’s going to be horrible for them,” Powell said.