Trustees approve campus reconfiguration, rezoning

The Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees approved rezoning changes for elementary and middle schools to alleviate campus overcrowding.

By two 6-1 votes, trustees also approved reconfiguring pairing four elementary schools — Travis and Zavala and Noel and Pease. Board member Delma Abalos cast the dissenting vote.

The plan is said to meet the state’s requirements for repurposing schools that are in their fifth year of improvement required status under state accountability ratings while focusing on early childhood literacy with more prekindergarten spots available. Officials have said early childhood literacy is an area of weakness in our community.”

ECISD has eight campuses on improvement required status. Ector Middle School, Noel and Zavala elementary schools are in their fifth year. If the campuses don’t come off the list, they will face closure or the Texas Education Commissioner will appoint a board of managers over the whole district.

Board President Carol Gregg said she wants the district to check with the Texas Education Agency to make sure the reconfiguration will meet the agency’s standards.

Parent meetings have been held with parents at the Noel, Pease, Travis and Zavala. Pease is in its third year of IR and Travis is at met standard.

Noel would be prekindergarten through first grade and Pease would be second through fifth grade if Noel doesn’t get off improvement required, Superintendent Tom Crowe said. If Noel does come off IR, it would be prekindergarten through second and Pease would be grades three through five.

The same would be true for Zavala and Travis.

Six new prekindergarten classrooms are planned to be opened as part of the change, and those campuses would be focused on building literacy in the early grade levels, the board recap said.

Start times will be staggered between the paired schools so parents will have the time to drop students off at both campuses. A district shuttle will be made available to help with drop off and pick up between the paired schools, as well, the recap said.

Crowe said the cost of the reconfiguration would be $630,000, but adding more classrooms would generate $650,000, so it would be a wash.

Abalos was uncomfortable voting for the reconfiguration because of the combination of cost and an unproven concept.

She added that she had also asked for budget figures for “quite a while” and didn’t get them until Tuesday night. Abalos said she would like to see how those numbers were arrived at.

“I don’t think the numbers were explained to us properly,” Abalos said after the meeting. “We didn’t get them until tonight, and frankly I’d like to see comparisons. I’d already discussed my concern about doing the two (Noel and Pease). I had no problem with Travis and Zavala. I had a problem with not knowing whether that’s going to work and not having something proven before we go to doing the other ones, Pease and Noel.”

All along, Abalos said, the word has been that Noel is going to get out of IR, but she was told Tuesday night that it might not.

“I just want to see that what we’re doing is fiscally good, because here we are asking for more money and yet I’ve been asking about this budget and I want to see it compared and I’ve been very clear about my concern and I got it tonight when I got here,” Abalos added. “It has to do with the cost it has to do with whether it really will work and trying it out at one place before we jumped to another. I explained to the superintendent. I had to vote my conscience. I ended up not voting for either one because the budget was not really explained and I got it tonight and I’ve been asking for that budget for a while.”

She said if she’d gotten some information earlier, maybe she would have changed her mind.

On a separate item, trustees voted 7-0 to approve school boundary rezoning of elementary and middle schools.

The elementary school changes are aimed at reducing overcrowding in the north and east side of Odessa/Ector County including Jordan, Buice and LBJ elementary schools, while the middle school changes will shrink Ector Middle School’s attendance zone and create “pure feeder patterns” from the middle schools to Odessa and Permian high schools.

Trustees voted 7-0 to approve Standard Attire (uniforms) for Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy. This concludes a year-long campaign in which GPA leaders discussed this change with parents and staff and, ultimately, put the issue to a vote. Seventy-two percent voted in favor of the school going to Standard Attire (uniforms.) The school’s choice of shirts/pants colors will be added to the District’s brochure and website.

In other business:

Trustees voted 7-0 to approve standard attire (uniforms) for Gale Pond Alamo STEAM Academy. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math.

This concludes a year-long campaign in which campus leaders discussed this change with parents and staff and, ultimately, put the issue to a vote. Seventy-two percent voted in favor of the school going to uniforms. The school’s choice of shirts/pants colors will be added to the district’s brochure and website, the recap said.

Trustees approved the consent agenda, which is a group of routine or previously discussed items presented for approval at one time. Tuesday’s consent agenda included AVID contract for 2018-19, AVID EXCEL contract for Bonham Middle School for 2018-19; the bond planning committee charter and other items.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.

The board discussed the first of its board self constraints. Created as part of the Lone Star Governance process, constraints are specific prohibited behaviors the group outlines for itself. Trustees adopted three constraints, the first of which is: “The Board will not allow its primary time or focus to be on anything other than student performance.”

The board discussed its student outcome goal 1 and the goal progress measures. These were also created according to Lone Star Governance guidelines, as well.

Student outcome goal 1 is: “The number of IR campuses will decrease from eight to zero by the end of 2019-20.” The goal progress measures look at tier instruction for Noel Elementary and Zavala Elementary and benchmark results from Ector Middle School, the recap said.

Trustees continued their self-evaluation, which they work on quarterly, comparing their goals and actions against a set of standards outlined in the Lone Star Governance model, the recap said.

The board did not go into closed session and approved the employment contract renewals, contract extensions for administrators, teachers and professional support employees. Crowe said there were no non-renewals.