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Board hires ECISD interim superintendent - Odessa American: ECISD

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Board hires ECISD interim superintendent

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Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 10:16 pm

After a two-hour closed door meeting, the Ector County Independent School District board of trustees emerged with a 7-0 vote naming Thomas Crowe the interim superintendent around 9 p.m. Tuesday night.

Crowe, a retired superintendent with 38 years experience in education, is from Bandera (east of San Antonio), where he is currently an education consultant, and has a long resume that includes experience with improving student achievement. In naming Crowe, the ECISD board approved a salary of $227,000 with a $1,500 monthly housing allowance as well. Crowe was chosen among three candidates, according to board president Ray Beaty. Last meeting, the board met in closed session for 2 1/2 hours discussing the interim superintendent job.

“If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life,” Crowe said following the announcement. He was welcomed to ECISD with a rousing round of applause by the board and the 20 or so people in the audience at the boardroom Tuesday evening. Crowe, who’s been retired since 2009, said he has no interest in becoming ECISD’s permanent superintendent, but jumped at the chance to be in a position to help. He will live in Ector County while his wife stays in Bandera to maintain their antique mall.

“I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity,” Crowe said.

Beaty said all candidates were excellent, but Crowe really stood out and will help the district start the new school year with his years of experience as a superintendent.

Board member Doyle Woodall believed it was important for the board to strike a unanimous vote Tuesday night on the interim superintendent decision. His background will help in looking at ECISD’s state test scores, Woodall said.

“I’m real happy with it. He’s a boots on the ground, 24/7 here kind of guy,” Woodall said.

The appointment of Crowe comes firstly after six-year superintendent Hector Mendez announced his retirement in March, then the former chief of staff H.T. Sanchez became the interim superintendent until he took the superintendent job in Tucson, Ariz. (June 29), and finally Human Resources Director Brian Moersch was named the “acting superintendent” on July 1 until an interim superintendent was hired.

The trustees have hired School Executive Consulting Inc. of Dallas to conduct the superintendent search. The process is on-going.


ECISD is getting tougher on drug punishments after the board voted 7-0 to increase punishment for drug offenses on its campuses.

The new policy is for possession, selling or using drugs is a 20-day suspension, a second offense is a 30-day suspension and finally a third offense is 60 days suspension “to the streets.” The previous rules weren’t as strict as these and Garcia said ramping up the punishment terms was backed up by the secondary school principals. The new policy will begin this year.

The student code of conduct policy is essentially the Texas Association of School Boards recommended code and incorporates all legal requirements by Texas law.

“It’s a little more stringent than last year,” Garcia said.

Offenses will cumulate for students from seventh- to ninth-grades and then from ninth- to 12th-grades. When a student switches between grade levels (from junior high to high school) the slate is wiped clean, Garcia said. So a student may take on three offenses in junior high and three new offenses in high school.

Luis Galvan asked Garcia if students who are expelled to the street could be placed into a mentorship program or work program so they’re doing something productive such as watching TV or playing video games. Galvan admitted he’s used marijuana to the Odessa American in May after being questioned about photos showing him with what appears to be baggies of marijuana. Galvan has been asked to resign by some community members.

Garcia said what ECISD should pursue again is the needed partnership with Ector County to bring a Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program. Galvan asked that a discussion of that be placed on the next agenda.

 Garcia is working on getting together a committee, he said, to focus on campuses and how they can shore up some of the issues surrounding getting students plugged into the classroom and instruction.

Board member Doyle Woodall said he didn’t believe the policy was tough enough. He asked about requiring drug tests for students as an example. “It needs to be something a little stronger. It seems a little weak to me,” Woodall said.

Garcia said the 60-day punishment is serious because students are put up against making up credits to graduate high school.

Board member Steve Brown clarified with Garcia that upon the third offense of 60 days, every other offense after that (within the same grade level) would be a 60-day expulsion.


Board members approved the proposed tax rate 7-0 to publish and a public meeting date of 5 p.m. Sept. 17 for the tax rate adoption. A school district’s tax rate is broken down into two parts: maintenance and operations (M&O), which provides the funding for day-to-day operations; and interest and sinking, also called debt service, which provides the funding for debt payments. For 2013-14, Trustees are proposing an M&O rate of $1.04 and an I&S rate of $0.121 for a total tax rate of $1.161.

The M&O rate has been the same since 2008. The I&S rate is up 4.15 cents from last year and is the direct result of the passage of the school bond last November. In the lead up to the bond election, it was projected that the increase would be 5.8 cents but increased local tax values led to a lower rate being proposed now.


Substitute teachers got a little boost in pay Tuesday night after the board approved 7-0 to increase daily pay by $15. Noncertified teachers will now earn $100 and certified teachers will earn $125 a day.

Moersch said Woodall asked that the district look into increasing the pay.

Usually to back-up ECISD teachers, there are about 500 substitute teachers available to work, whereas currently there are just 220.

Moersch said they will update the advertisement for the job in the morning with board president Ray Beaty joking that the list should grow to 600 by Wednesday.

The pay raise for substitutes will come out of the current fund for substitute pay, which the district did not use up from last year. Harwell said it will not cost the district any extra money.


Nimitz Junior High seventh-grader Blake Dominguez wrote a nationally winning essay discussing youth violence. More than 75,000 students nationwide participated. Dominguez was honored with a five-day visit to Washington, D.C., to attend a gala dinner and ceremony.


Amy Harvey, the humanities coordinator at ECISD, shared with the board the success of Abydos Learning International training for teachers, which succinctly puts teachers in the students’ shoes in writing. It’s an intensive training of a 15-day institute, 120 hours, Harvey said. She brought with her five teachers and trainers who participated and gave insight into their experiences.


>> BUDGET AMENDMENT: The board unanimously approved a budget amendment, the second one of this fiscal year, of $247,000. The increase of $133,000 to the budget is due to purchase orders from the previous year, which was short after it was changed from a Sept. 1 fiscal year start date to a July 1 start date. The budget also increased $170,000 to account for an increase in property insurance; Harwell said quotes came in higher than expected. And finally, $104,000 will go for surveillance work at the Alternative Education Center.

>> CONSENT AGENDA: All items on the consent agenda were approved 7-0.



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