ECISD board to meet with attorney about IR schools

The Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees will meet for a special workshop at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the board room of the administration building, 802 N. Sam Houston Ave.

The board will have a discussion of its improvement required campuses and meet with attorney David Thompson of the law firm Thompson & Horton LLC.

Zavala, Ector and Noel Elementary School are in their fifth year of improvement required status under state accountability standards.

ECISD has eight campuses on improvement required status under state accountability standards. With Zavala and Noel Elementary schools and Ector Middle School in their fifth year of improvement required, if they don’t come off, the campuses will face closure or the Texas Education Commissioner will appoint a board of managers over the whole district.

Under a law passed by the legislature in 2015, TEA must take action if campuses cannot get off IR after five years. Crowe said it used to be up to seven years and then they “may” close the campus or campuses or put in a board of managers. That language has been changed to must.

Thomson said he will review options under Senate Bill 1882 passed in 2017 and House Bill 1842, which contains the language about what the education commissioner must do.

The focus will be on the two statutes and how they “interplay and work together,” Thompson said.

Senate Bill 1882 allows a partnership with an in-district charter school. Thompson said an in-district charter is something a district can create itself. It could use a nonprofit organization in the community, another government entity, an institute of higher education or some combination of those.

House Bill 1842 revised the accreditation sanctions. It’s the one that contains the language that if a district is on improvement required or low performing for a long enough period of consecutive years that ultimately the Texas Education Commissioner has two options — close the campus or take over the operation or management of the district as a whole, Thompson said.

Thompson said if the district goes into a partnership with a charter school, it will get more funding. He said charter schools get about $1,000 more per child than an independent school district.

“What (SB) 1882 says is if you enter into a partnership, the district gets the same money that a charter school would draw, plus you get a two-year stay on the accreditation sanctions that were in (HB) 1842,” Thompson said.

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