• December 6, 2019

Spring Branch chief named lone finalist for ECISD superintendent - Odessa American: ECISD

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Spring Branch chief named lone finalist for ECISD superintendent

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Posted: Tuesday, April 23, 2019 5:52 pm

In a 7-0 vote Tuesday, the Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees named Scott Muri as the lone finalist for superintendent.

Muri is currently the superintendent at Spring Branch ISD. By law, the school board must wait 21 days before finalizing a contract with Muri, so details about salary and benefits were not disclosed. The start date is tentatively set for July 1, Board President Doyle Woodall said.

He will replace Interim Superintendent Jim Nelson who was appointed after former Superintendent Tom Crowe retired last fall.

The firm of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates conducted the search for the new school chief. 

Muri has a bachelor’s degree in intermediate education and middle school education from Wake Forest University; a master’s degree in public school administration from Stetson University in Deland, Fla., and a doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University in Matthews, N.C.

Muri has been superintendent in Spring Branch for four years. During that time, academic achievement gaps narrowed in five of five areas and overall student achievement rose, a news release stated.

He oversaw the redesign of the compensation system and recruiting efforts to more effectively recruit and retain employees, the release detailed. Spring Branch has a budget of $300 million, student enrollment of 35,000 ranging from high wealth to economically disadvantaged and 4,600 employees.

He also has served as deputy superintendent of academics in Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, which has 96,000 students and 100 campuses.

Before that, he spent five years at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in Charlotte, N.C. His roles included area superintendent, zone superintendent and chief information officer overseeing research and evaluation, along with technology infrastructure and instructional technology innovation.

He has been an elementary school teacher, middle school math/science teacher, instructional technology specialist and high school dean of students and assistant principal and principal, the release said.

Muri said he wanted to come to ECISD because of the people on the board of trustees, who are the first people he met in Odessa about a month and a half ago.

“I probed deeply as to who they were as individuals, what they stand for, why they serve as trustees, what they believe in this community and they, in my opinion, really reflect all that is good and right and just in Ector County ISD,” Muri said.

He said the board talked about the tremendous community support that exists in the district.

“They talked about the incredible group of 33,000 kids that walk into these doors every day to receive a quality education. They shared their passion and vision for developing greatness for each of the kids that we serve,” Muri said.

He added that the board members have deep roots and a deep passion for what happens to this system.

“I want to serve in an environment in which the seven members of the board of trustees believe deeply and passionately in creating great opportunities for kids. I want to serve in a place in which the community believes in doing what’s right and just and fair for the kids in this system. I want to serve in an environment in which the kids come hungry every day, in which we’re filled with educators that are working as hard as they can,” Muri said.

He added that district employees work incredibly hard to meet the needs of students and that’s a place he wants to be.

“So my why is because we serve an incredible group of kids in this system that deserve greatness. They deserve a great teacher every day. They deserve a great leader in their schools. We have an opportunity to create that for our kids, so it is an honor to be here today and to accept this opportunity. I look forward to the journey that we will take together as a community to create wonderful opportunities for the kids that we serve,” Muri said.

He noted that there are some campuses in ECISD that are struggling academically and the state has labeled them improvement required.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been intentionally focused on opportunities for kids, specifically kids that are at-risk kids that live in poverty; kids that are sometimes underserved. I’ve had great success with that in a variety of different situations and know that by partnering with this board and by partnering with this community, we can make great things happen for the kids, too. The district is filled with great teachers and leaders that want excellence for their students. I want to come in and partner with them and provide those great opportunities for kids,” Muri said.

In Spring Branch, he said, about 60 percent of students live in poverty and about 60 percent are Hispanic.

In Ector County a little more than 50 percent of students live in poverty and 75 percent are Hispanic, he said, so they are demographically similar.

Srping Branch does well academically.

“But we don’t pay attention to necessarily the state ratings. We pay attention to what we call multiple measures. We value the variety of things our kids are doing. We value growth, so we want to make sure that kids are growing and that’s important here …,” Muri said.

“We pay attention to something we call school connectedness. Research says that when kids feel valued, when kids are connected to their school, when they feel like they have healthy relationships with adults, when they feel safe in their environment they do well academically, so measuring that is important and we want to create that environment in this system,” he added. “We have our STAAR test and absolutely those are critically important, but there are many other ways to monitor and measure the success of our children. We’ve had some great success in Spring Branch and we will have great success in Ector County. I have absolute confidence in that.”

The financial challenges also are similar.

 “We also face some of the same financial challenges. Both Spring Branch and Ector County are called Chapter 41 districts, so we both face financial challenges with the way the state finance system is currently treating both districts,” Muri said.

He acknowledged that ECISD faces staffing challenges. Muri said it is a chance to think differently about the role of teachers and what can be done to attract and retain them.

“… I’m excited about that challenge because it forces us to be different to think differently about how we meet the needs of our students. The district is already doing some great work here as they think more broadly about attracting and retaining and I’m excited to learn about what’s happening and then complement it,” Muri said.

He added his first 100 days on the job will be about listening, learning and understanding.

Adrian Vega, who is part of the Education Partnership of the Permian Basin, said the board being unanimous in its decision sends a great message to the community.

“I think the time is right for us to continue to move this district and the community forward. So I’m excited. I’m looking forward to getting to meet and know him and work alongside him and do whatever we can from the Education Partnership standpoint to continue doing great things for our community. As you know, our mission or our purpose is to raise the quality of education in our community cradle to career,” Vega said.

Nelson said he had met Muri after he came to Spring Branch.  

“I’m certainly aware of what a remarkable educator he is and what a great job he’s done in that school district, so I’m really pleased for the citizens of this community, and more importantly the children of this community. I know he’s going to do a great job and I think the team that we’ve put together is going to be very supportive of him and that they’re going to mesh together very well,” Nelson said.

Trustee Doyle Woodall said the top seven candidates were all quality people. He said Muri stood out to him because when he came and sat down for the interview, a sense of calm and peace fell over the whole room.

Woodall said Muri has been successful everywhere he’s been and the fit was obvious for ECISD. He realizes how important it is for ECISD to be successful and how urgent the situation is, but Woodall said instead of people being frantic, they are going to be able to stay calm and focused on the problem and deliver results much quicker just because of Muri’s personality, attitude and the way he treats people.

“He’s an amazing man and we are truly blessed to have him,” Woodall said.


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