The bond oversight committee and the LEAP grant awarded to Ector County ISD were reviewed by Superintendent Scott Muri during his media call Wednesday.
The Bond Oversight Committee, promised as part of the ECISD bond 2023 package, met Jan. 23. There are 10 committee members, nine of whom were able to attend.
“We provided a pretty comprehensive update to that group of individuals. (The) 10 members of the bond oversight committee represent leaders from across our community — north, south, east and west of Ector County,” Muri said. “These individuals represent a variety of different skill sets, if you will. We have finance people, bankers, as well as contractors and construction industry experts, those that know and understand the building process. All of those experts will help guide our movements as we move forward.”
Just one proposition of three passed in what was a three-proposition $436,109,000 bond.
Proposition A for $424,263,000 includes a new career and technical education center; new middle school in West Odessa; districtwide maintenance and repairs; a new transportation facility; bus purchases; technology purchases and replacements; fine arts renovations, instrument purchases and uniforms; JROTC facility needs; replacement of the Transition Learning Center; compete replacement of classroom buildings and bars at the Agriculture Farm; LED lighting at the Odessa High School baseball and tennis stadiums; LED lighting at the Permian High School baseball stadium; resurfacing of tennis stadiums at all middle schools; replacement of indoor bleachers in main gyms of all middle schools; and purchasing land for the new middle school.
The bond oversight committee will meet four times a year, and once a year they will present an update to the board of trustees.
“We shared the charges with the committee. The board of trustees has given them a very specific task of oversight and so we talked about that with them. Then we also provided a pretty comprehensive bond update. We updated them on the five-year timeline, which is now posted for the public to see,” Muri said.
“We also updated them of financial matters that relate to the bond, the amount of money that is allocated to each of the projects and then expenditures that we’ve made thus far. One pretty large expenditure has been made with the purchase of interactive panels for our classrooms. A little over $3.1 million has been expended. We were able to talk about those expenditures and even show some images to the Bond Oversight Committee and then responded to their questions, of course,” he added.
This being the first meeting, the committee had lots of questions about processes and procedures and information about the bond itself.
“We were able to address many of their questions. The next meeting of that committee will be in the month of April,” Muri said.
A web page has been developed for the public to monitor the progress of the bond referendum at www.ecisdbond.com.
“All of the projects in the bond are listed on a five-year timeline … The public can see that today. We also have the financial picture of the bond referendum — the exact dollar amount that has been allocated for each of the bond projects. The public will see that as well,” Muri said.
There will also be pictures updating the progress.
“It feels incredibly exciting to be at this point in the bond program. We’re very grateful to our community for passing that bond referendum; for really investing in the students of ECISD. I’ve said multiple times, our community really has no idea what’s coming. The opportunities that are within this $424 million bond are significant. A brand-new, state-of-the-art, world-class career and technical education facility will be built in this system and people are going to be awestruck when they see that facility. A brand-new middle school – we haven’t built a new middle school in many, many, many years, so once again people will be just truly inspired by what a school built in 2024-25-26 will look like,” Muri said.
There are other investments in fine arts, athletics, JROTC and special education.
“A lot of our students at the elementary, middle and high school level are going to be directly impacted by this expenditure, so (we’re) just really excited for the students in ECISD,” Muri said.
The only challenge the district faces so far, and Muri said it may be an ongoing challenge, is finding people and companies to do the work.
“This is an area of very low unemployment and that means that most of the individuals in our community are gainfully employed. There’s a lot of work to be done in Ector County and surrounding areas and so adding the work that goes into $424 million worth of bond program on top of what’s already being done in our community” will make it difficult to find good people to work for the district, he added.
“But other than that, things are full steam ahead and we’re really excited,” Muri said.
On a separate topic, he said last month the district announced that ECISD was the recipient of a $9 million grant from the federal government that will allow them to target 10 ECISD schools to provide opportunities for the teachers and leaders on those campuses to improve the quality of instruction in reading and math.
Muri said that work has now begun.
“ECISD is calling this initiative LEAP – Leadership for Ector’s Accelerated Performance – and it is initially focused on 10 schools that have a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students,” a news release said.
Together, these schools serve 9,739 students with 556 teachers and 10 principals. The 10 schools in the rollout are Odessa High School, Bowie Middle School, Bonham Middle School, Blackshear Elementary, Dowling Elementary, Downing Elementary, Goliad Elementary, Sam Houston Elementary, San Jacinto Elementary, and West Elementary, the release said.
“We’ve already begun meeting with the staff members of those campuses, provided some instructional training for them and they are well down the road to implementing those improvements,” Muri said. “At the same time, those teachers and leaders that show a significant level of improvement will have a pretty healthy amount of financial compensation coming their way. It’s one more way, as an organization, that we are using the tactic of pay for performance providing compensation for our teachers and leaders that perform at the very highest level of the organization. We are appreciative of the $9 million grant from the federal government that allows us to expand that work in ECISD.”