• August 21, 2019

Community welcomes new ECISD superintendent - Odessa American: ECISD

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Community welcomes new ECISD superintendent

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Posted: Friday, July 19, 2019 4:30 pm

Since he began his job less than two weeks ago — and even before that — people were asking Ector County Independent School District Superintendent why he left Spring Branch ISD for Odessa.

His answer, as told to those gathered for a welcome reception for him hosted by the Odessa Chamber of Commerce this week, was: Why not?

Muri listed off several reasons why he’s glad to be in Odessa. He said the board of trustees is excited about the possibilities for the 33,000 students they serve, the community has passed a tax ratification election in support of ECISD, the chamber of commerce offers a warm welcome to educators and the employees are excited about the possibilities for children.

Plus, Muri said, business leaders, the philanthropic community and nonprofits and parents collectively understand and value the education of children here.

"Why not come to a place in which all of the puzzle pieces are perfectly aligned to create great opportunities for the kids that we serve in this community? So why not? Who could say no to an opportunity like this, so on day 8 in my tenure at Ector County ISD as the superintendent I say I’ll tell you I’ll give you in fact a whole list of reasons why this is an incredible time to be in this incredible place and I consider it an honor and a privilege to be standing with you today as your superintendent," Muri said.

"There will be no ‘I’ in the work that we do. It will take this village of people to create great opportunities for the kids and I look forward to working with all of you as together we create an amazing school system and community that will serve us well today, but much more importantly will serve us well into tomorrow, so thank you for having me as your superintendent. It is an honor and a privilege to be here," he added.

Before his remarks, Muri said his days have mostly been filled with meeting and greeting. He added that he will do a lot of listening and learning in the coming months.

Thursday he attended a meeting for the district’s strategic planning process at Odessa College.

Muri said the work will be extended for several more months.

"The original goal was to end in the month of July or August, but I would like to extend for a few more months to make sure we’ve really fleshed out all the challenges that we face, make sure that we’ve done our very best thinking to create a strategic plan that can guide our work for the next five years," he said.

There also are legislative changes to consider, such as the school finance law, House Bill 3 and others that the district must adhere to. There also is the challenge of filling some 389 teacher vacancies and the housing crisis in Odessa.

Many of those attending were thrilled to have the chance to meet Muri.

Hank Herrick, executive director of United Way, has been a volunteer in the schools reading to children.

"(He’s) very intelligent," Herrick said. "When he asks a question, he expects a solid answer and he gives a solid answer. I think we picked the right one."

University of Texas Permian Basin President Sandra Woodley has met Muri, but hasn’t had a chance to talk to him in depth yet. That will come in the next couple of weeks.

"He has a big job to do and I’m here to support him. I was here two years ago like him just starting out in the Permian Basin; this very same event two years ago. The university is here to provide its support and we have a lot of mutual interests. He needs more teachers. My goal in my strategic plan is to produce more teachers. The work that we’re doing with Odessa College to accelerate that it all kind of fits together, so I’m excited to work with him," Woodley said.

Jonathan Fuentes, executive dean of academic partnerships at OC, welcomed Muri to town.

"This is a great place to call home," Fuentes said. "I’ve called it home for my entire life. The Permian Basin is a wonderful place. Exciting things are happening and you are here at the right time and we cannot wait to see the things that you’re going to do."

"We at Odessa College look forward to working with you on the expansion of a college-going culture. We have certainly made strides in this direction, but we still have long ways to go and we look forward to doing it with you. We are so proud of our longstanding relationship with ECISD, but we are even more excited about having you and a great group of administrators at ECISD. Since I took this job on April 1, I’m so impressed with your team, by their desire to improve education in Ector County, by their optimism and willingness to serve and by the results they are already seeing. The energy is palpable and I know that you and your team will get the job done," he added.

Mara Barham, chairperson of the chamber of commerce board of directors, said not only will Muri take the district to the next level, but will take it to the top.

Odessa Chamber President and CEO Renee Earls said one of Muri’s first meetings was with the chamber.

"I’m very encouraged by his ideas his enthusiasm. I think his words today were tremendous. I love his thought process: why not? He looks at all the opportunities that we have here, so to me he’s looking through very positive eyes and I think that’s what we need to do. We need to remind our citizens that we live in an incredible place with so much to offer and now we have a new superintendent that, as Mara mentioned, can take us not only to the next level but to the top. That’s what we want for our students. They are the future of our community. They are our future employees, so it’s imperative that we as a community support the district and support him, as well," Earls said.

Odessa, TX

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