Board extends Muri’s contract

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In a unanimous vote, the Ector County ISD Board of Trustees extended Superintendent Scott Muri’s contract and gave him a raise Tuesday night.

The board extended by one year to the end of June 30, 2026, and raised his salary from $300,900 to $309,927. The board also increased the district’s contribution to Muri’s retirement. Board Vice President Steve Brown made the motion and Donna Smith seconded. Nelson Minyard had to leave before the executive session and did not vote afterward.

“I love being here,” Muri said.

Trustees also approved hiring Cindy Retana as executive director of leadership. Muri said she had that role at Soccer ISD.

They also tabbed Keeley Simpson as chief of schools.

Trustees unanimously approved a total tax rate of $1.17792 per $100 valuation at their meeting Tuesday night.

Board member Nelson Minyard made the motion and Chris Stanley seconded it.  

The total rate is unchanged from last year. The maintenance and operation rate is now $1.05170 per $100 valuation total tax rate and the interest and sinking (debt service) has increased from $.12322 per $100 valuation in 2020-21 and $.12622 per $100 valuation for 2021-22.

ECISD Chief Financial Officer Deborah Ottmers said the tax rate does not exceed the “no new revenue tax rate,” exceed the voter approved tax rate, provide for maintenance and operation revenues that exceed the amount imposed in the prior year, so no special language was required.

Ottmers said ECISD wanted to keep the total tax the same. The state is requiring that they reduce the maintenance and operations rate so they are increasing the interest and sinking rate a slight amount.

Ottmers said that will allow them to repay nearly $5.7 million in bonds from 2012-13. She added that this will save the district some $2.5 million in interest costs.

In other business, the board:

>> Approved campus improvement plans for schools across the district. Board member Delma Abalos said some of the plans were good and some were not.

Abalos said some didn’t take them seriously. In the future, she said she would like to see if they are following their own plans to “help us get out of the academic situation that we’re in.”

Under a memorandum of understanding with Third Future Schools, ECISD will provide dyslexia, English as a second language and copier leases.

A memorandum of understanding with Acceleration Academies was approved.

Plans are to hire 10 to 12 highly qualified Texas staff members to lead the academy; identify and build out a store front using the Edmentum curriculum; recruit a list of eligible students; operate the program using its proprietary technology platform; and report data to the district.

Muri said more than 2,000 students between age 16-21 would be eligible, but they would not be able to serve all of them.

“I think this is such a worthwhile cause. It’s exciting. I will be glad when they get open,” Abalos said.

School Nutrition Director Brandon Reyes gave a presentation on his department and said they are serving the most students in his department’s history with roughly 18,000 lunches and 16,000 breakfasts.

The district offers universal feeding meaning every student gets a free breakfast and lunch and a super snack.

The board praised Reyes and his staff for their efforts and innovation.

“We have kids every day that the only meals they get are at school. Thank you for pushing that. You have to push through layers of administration to make that happen,” Muri said.