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How does ECISD spend its money? - Odessa American: ECISD

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How does ECISD spend its money?

Committee wants 5 year plan for TRE funds, independent look at budget

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Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2018 1:15 am

A candidate with West Texas connections and Olympic credentials was named the new Ector County Independent School District executive director of athletics.

Bruce McCrary, assistant athletic director for San Antonio ISD, had served as head athletic trainer/safety compliance officer/football operations director at Midland ISD; was athletic trainer for the U.S. Olympic Committee medical staff for the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain; and athletic trainer for the U.S. Olympic Committee medical staff for the World University Games in Sheffield, England, in 1991.

He also is the brother of Guy McCrary, president and CEO of the Permian Basin Area Foundation, and his wife, Sherry, is a native Odessan.

His salary is $115,000 a year. He’ll get a $7,500 vehicle allowance and $3,000 for moving expenses, with receipts, Public Information Officer Mike Adkins said.

McCrary replaces Todd Vesely, who took the executive director of athletics job at Fort Worth ISD. McCrary’s first day is Monday.

McCrary said ECISD has a good superintendent, good sports programs and great coaches.

“I think there’s just a lot of good things that can create a lot of good success. I’ve been blessed to work in a lot of great places with a lot of great people and that’s probably what’s prepared me to be here — being blessed to have all those opportunities and working with some really good people. I moved here from San Antonio ISD. It’s an inner-city school district. It has a lot of challenges, as well, but it was great working there; some really good people, but I’m really excited to be here. I’ve met some really good people. I’ve really enjoyed the people I’ve met and worked with so far,” McCrary said.

McCrary said he set a goal about eight years ago to become an athletic director. He started going to meetings and athletic directors’ conventions before he was working in athletic administration.

“So I did see myself becoming an athletic director, not necessarily here. This opportunity came up and it was just icing on the cake,” McCrary said.

He added that he did not pursue the athletic director position in Midland.

“The first thing I need to do is get myself updated with the processes in the district and learning the people, meeting with the principals and head coaches and just educating myself about the process for this district,” McCrary said.

He added that he thinks the administration did a good job of settling the Permian High School football program by appointing Jeff Ellison as the interim head coach and athletic director in the wake of Blake Feldt’s departure.

Feldt was named executive athletic director for MISD.

McCrary said Ellison’s appointment will promote stability.

“I’m very pleased with what happened. I think Coach Ellison will do a good job and we’ll go through the season and evaluate at the end, then decide what we need to do. The primary focus was creating stability for those kids that were in that program and I think that’s what happened,” he said.

He said he’s looking forward to the annual Permian-Odessa high school contest.

“It’s a lot of tradition. Odessa high and Permian both have a lot of tradition, good coaches and fans and whatnot. So it will be a big deal; a lot of excitement. … I’m looking forward to it,” McCrary said.

In other personnel matters, the board approved hiring:

  • Michael Hicks as assistant principal for Travis Elementary School.
  • Josie Mata as assistant principal at Murry Fly Elementary School.
  • And Mayra Leyva as assistant principal at Edward K. Downing Elementary School.
  • Discussed a proposed Chapter 313 agreement for tax credits and value limitations for a potential solar panel project in Ector County.
  • Oberon Solar submitted a project application to the school district, including the application fee that will cover the school district’s need to hire a consultant for the process. Trustees voted 6-0 to authorize the superintendent to review the application, submit it to the state comptroller, enter into an agreement to extend the deadline for board action beyond 150 days subject to ratification, and contract with Moak, Casey & Associates as a consultant to guide the school district through the process.
  • Approved releasing property at Lasseter Avenue. In January 2014, the district gave the City of Odessa property on Lasseter Avenue to be developed for low-income housing, the Grove Apartments.
  • ECISD retained the right to take back the property if the project was not completed within three years. The project was completed and this motion releases any rights the district has to the property, the recap said.
  • Reviewed the results of a survey taken by district administrators, principals and assistant principals who have participated in the Leadership Visioning Institute the past three years.
  • The institute gives district leaders the chance to study the document “Creating a Vision for Public Education in Texas.” The course, which is similar to the statewide Principals’ Institute, is designed to develop knowledge and skills required to lead change at the campus and district level, and build the ability to sustain innovative transformation over time.
  • Trustees voted 4-1-1 to approve an agreement to continue the Leadership Visioning Institute for the coming year. The cost is $54,000, plus travel expenses for the presenter.
  • The Institute will run 19 days with 80-90 ECISD participants throughout the 2018-19 school year. Carol Gregg voted against the agreement and board Secretary Delma Abalos abstained.
  • Approved a resolution for alternative graduation requirements for students who entered ninth grade before the 2011-12 school year.
  • Approved a $5,125,143 budget amendment that includes fiberoptics and network equipment, portable buildings, special education teachers and stipends for people in the 2+1 teacher preparation program.
  • Approved an interlocal agreement between the City of Odessa and ECISD to participate in the crossing guard program.
  • Approved ECISD hazardous traffic designations, which have changed due to rezoning.
  • Approved a memorandum of understanding between ECISD and Ector Success Academy Network, the nonprofit that is taking over operation of Ector Middle School. The campus is now called Ector College Prep Success Academy and is an in-district charter school.

PREVIOUS VERSION: The Bond Advisory Committee wants a five-year plan for what ECISD would do with proceeds from a proposed tax ratification election if it passes and also an independent look at how the district spends its money.

Questions about how the district’s money is spent and language about how the funds would be used were raised during a Monday meeting.

Committee member Lorraine Perryman said an in-depth budget analysis is needed. She said she talked to a top executive at Moak Casey & Associates about doing one and Superintendent Tom Crowe agreed to contact the company.

Perryman said a 1 percent increase in average daily attendance could bring in $1.6 million, an analysis by committee member Jeff Russell showed.

Russell said he gets frustrated when a tax increase has to be passed for buses because that’s something that should be ongoing.

Charles Carlson with Johnson, Miller & Co. CPAs, which has conducted the district’s audits for the last 15 years, said every penny that goes to the school district is accounted for.

ECISD’s funds come from property taxes, the state and federal funds.

Crowe expects about 33,000 students this year. Registration has just begun. District information stated that the despite the most recent bust that enrollment stayed above 31,000 for three consecutive years. Enrollment for the 2017-18 school year topped 32,000 all year.

The ECISD Board of Trustees has until Aug. 20 to call a bond election for the Nov. 8 general election.

The current total tax rate is $1.15 per $100 valuation, including $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 11 cents for debt service. The proposed tax rate is $1.28 per $100 with a $1.17 per $100 maintenance and operations rate and the 11 cents for debt staying the same.

The school board has approved a total general fund budget of a little more than $275 million, about $32.4 million more than last year.

The largest part of the increase is based on the successful passage of a tax ratification election. The TRE would bring in an estimated $17.6 million. If it does not pass, $17.6 million of the budget will be cut, a recap from the June 26 board meeting stated.

The bond committee will meet again July 30. Dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. and the meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa cafeteria, 300 E. 29th St.

Perryman said progress was made Monday night, but there is still a ways to go.

“The purpose of this committee is to work with the school district to determine where we’ve been and where we’re going in the future so that we can have hard numbers that are justifiable go to the community to show them what they need to do to help our school district do a better job,” Perryman said. “And those are issues like raises, roof repairs and safety in buildings so it is determining what those priorities are, but there has to be a financial analysis of the district to determine where we are now and then where we can go in the future with this possible TRE.”

She added that there are some items that have been taken off the proposed list of what TRE funds would be used for and some have been added.

“It’s like a research project for the community of how we can help our school district, but a lot of hard questions need to be asked before we can ask the voters to step up,” Perryman said.

Perryman said she wants an independent look at the school district’s finances so “that we can go to the community and say this isn’t just the school district saying this.”

“We have an outside expert in school finance look at the school district’s budget, how the money has been spent, where it has been spent wisely, or not so wisely, so that we can make some changes other than just asking people to give more money and then we need to hone down a five-year plan for how this TRE money would be used in the district and not just a one-year plan, which is what we’ve received so far. We need to have a five-year projection because if the TRE passes, that is a permanent tax increase so we need to know where that money is going for a reasonable period of time,” she said.

Crowe said the board could reduce the tax rate if it passes, but he would recommend against that.

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