LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Educator supports both bond propositions

I’m Carla Byrne, executive director for Career & Technical Education at ECISD, but writing this letter as a private citizen of Odessa, who understands the dire need. CTE is housed at Frost, a 72-year-old bakery, CTE portions of New Tech Odessa (NTO), the Ag Farm, OC Sewell Auto Tech, and all 5 high schools.

In 11 years, Frost has grown from 2 welding labs to 7. With only 2 labs then, students were turned away by the hundreds. We divided larger labs in half and moved Auto Tech to OC Sewell. This was a band-aid. There are 601 welding course requests for 2022-23.

All 7 instructors have 3 double-blocks daily, capped at 20 for safety, with 60 total students each. Given that, Frost can accommodate 420 welding students. That means turning away 181. We send 15-20 of the over-enrollment to OC annually.

Frost also houses 1 Construction lab and 1 Auto Body lab.

NTO is out of space too. The entire upstairs is CTE: 8 Health Science classrooms (all labs were dismantled to accommodate more students), 1 old home economics room for Advanced Culinary Arts; and one Fashion Design room.

Downstairs C wing encompasses 2 Culinary Arts make-shift kitchens (portable burners; very bare bones) for intro; 1 Early Learning/Future Teachers of Odessa classroom; one Audio/Video Production lab; and 1 Culinary Arts classroom attached to 1 commercial sized Culinary Arts kitchen for Practicum Culinary, and 1 student restaurant.

While the restaurant has been closed due to COVID, instruction continues daily, plus 10 caterings, 8 Saturday and after school workshops, and a monthly Coffee House with orders delivered.

All of A and B wings are NTO teachers and students.

During NTO’s Career Center days, there were only 3 labs with overhead doors. That may have been sufficient for a time, but it certainly wouldn’t be now. With 7 current welding labs and a need for 3 more, we could not find 10 areas in which overhead doors could be added.

Future programs include Process Technology (Nacero), Plumbing, Cyber Security, and many more. Our responsibility is to grow Odessa’s workforce and grow our students into good neighbors. We need the community’s support in order to do that.

Carla Byrne