Education summit focuses on partnerships

Continuing a tradition born out of COVID, superintendents, central office, higher education and business representatives convened Thursday for the fourth annual Permian Basin Education Leadership Summit.

Held at the Bush Convention Center, it included about 130 people from across the Permian Basin and Eastern New Mexico. The event was cosponsored by the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin and Permian Strategic Partnership.

The first event was centered on the best way to invest COVID relief funds from the federal government.

“We decided we kind of liked getting together and learning from each other and so this is the fourth year of the event,” Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri said.

The main topic Thursday was partnerships — how can community partnerships be enhanced with the community, local businesses and higher education to improve the quality of education for students, Muri said.

He added that part of the conversation Thursday was about National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

“One of those partnerships that we have is with the Permian Strategic Partnership, which has a desire to increase teacher quality and one way to do that is through National Board certification. … The PSP has funded this work … We pitched that idea to school districts across the Permian Basin today,” Muri said.

One of the things discussed was ECISD’s new career and technical education center being financed by the Nov. 7 bond. Muri said that will be done in partnership with Odessa College.

“We had multiple examples today of k-12 institutions partnering with higher education for a variety of reasons … On the New Mexico side, we saw a similar relationship between their career and technical education facility and some of their business community and how the businesses have been a part of the design and development in the opening of that space,” Muri added.

Muri said a lot of good seeds were planted.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath spoke to them about a new piece of legislation that passed supports small, rural districts if they partner together to enhance career and technical education.

“If they get together and do some career and technical education work as districts, their level of funding significantly increases. So money is tied to partnerships, which ultimately benefits students,” Muri said.

He noted that there were a lot of good examples cited of partnerships that are already in place such as PSP, which funds things throughout the Permian Basin, Education Partnership of the Permian Basin and local businesses partnering with school districts to provide chances to students.

“There’s a lot of good work happening in this entire region and so parents should feel good about what’s happening, but more importantly, the opportunities that are coming down the road for kids,” Muri said.

He added that the convening Thursday is important during these times of state funding uncertainty.

“We’re having to look at some new and unique ways to not only to fund the programs that we need to fund, but really to provide new and innovative opportunities, knowing that there’s no money available, so where else can we seek funding for good, innovative ideas for kids?” Muri said.

He added that he is grateful to PSP and the Education Partnership for funding this opportunity for everyone to come together and engage in conversation.

Gene Strickland, superintendent of Hobbs Municipal Schools, said historically districts did not get together like this.

“As we’ve continued to schedule and plan future events, this being the fourth one, it continues to be about what are those partnerships and what are those relationships and where do they exist because it’s not about my school district vs that other school district. It’s about our region thriving and being successful well into the future and and helping prepare that generation that’s going to be doing that,” Strickland said.

“Today allowed us to have conversations with colleges and other industries, with partners, with other school districts even within our own office, not just superintendents, but … to have parallel conversations with other members of our teams,” he added.

Strickland said they will go back and compare notes from today. There are some things from Texas that he wants to see what they look like in New Mexico.