Just in time for a large textbook adoption, Ector County ISD has mostly moved into its new building for instructional materials and records at 119 E. 52nd St.
Formerly part of Saulsbury Industries, the property’s office and warehouse space is about triple the size of the current textbook warehouse at 10th Street and Golder Avenue. The old warehouse is out of space.
The cost of the land and new building is $745,000.
“It’s fabulous,” said Amy Miller, instructional materials coordinator/records management officer, on a recent tour. “Before, our office and our warehouse was half the size of just this warehouse, so it was 10,000 square feet for the entire office. That’s records and everything …”
Over time, Miller and fellow employees will be able to organize and prepare better.
“… Before, you had pallets stacked literally to the fire marshal standard and you kind of had to dig for things. … So here we actually have the space to know what we have to not waste any resources and to make sure everything is taken care of properly,” she added.
Chief Operations Officer Patrick Young said he could remember when the new books arrived, Miller would fill up the floor space and there was nowhere to work.
“… The first two hours of the work day they spent moving books out of the warehouse into the elements on the parking lot so that they had space to work,” Young said.
The old building will be on the July ECISD Board of Trustees agenda for discussion.
“There was an understanding that it would be sold. No action was taken (in December 2018) back when we, when the action was taken to purchase this building, so it’s still up in the air what the board wants to do with that building,” Young said.
“It’s still a good building. I think it would be a good home for somebody. If the board does decide to sell it, then we have to offer it to charter schools. We’ve done some research on that. I think we have to offer that for about 60 days. Obviously, if all the charter schools send us a letter back saying we’re not interested then we can go ahead and proceed. But it’s not just – put it on the market,” Young added.
Miller said moving in later in the school year put them a little behind on organization, but it will eventually get to the point where they can keep better track and have space to work, “because we’ve always been outside working.”
Insulation has been sprayed on the warehouse walls, so it’s hoped that it will be cooler in the building.
When new textbooks come in, or old ones go out of adoption, the district can’t just throw them away. Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Lilia Náñez said they don’t keep anything they receive. The warehouse is like a weigh station.
Young said the warehouse and storage area have separate entrances.
“We have to inventory everything we receive. We check out when they’re brought back in. We have to send everything back. We cannot keep anything, but we have to have a secure location,” Náñez said.
The textbooks go back to the Texas Education Agency and the tests are returned to the testing company, ETS, that TEA has contracted with.
“This will be happening for five years. As you know, the new rule says the state wants us to transition to all digital assessing in five years. But in the meantime, we have to have our testing data,” Náñez said.
Although still in the brainstorming phase, at some point in the future when records become more digitized they may add more people to the new building. As of the week of June 3, there were seven employees in textbooks and records, including Miller.
Náñez said there were three in testing.
“We have to think about what we’re going to do with digitizing. They’ve got a nice work room and training room in the middle area there, so it would be ideal. But we don’t have anything decided yet. It’s just kind of brainstorming ideas. It would be terrific if we could get all the curriculum content coordinators to come over here because they usually work with our instructional specialists, so they need some space that little training room there would be excellent for space and then of course the testing department can use it, too, when she’s having to do training for test administration and stuff,” Náñez said.
Miller said a certain amount of loose books were kept around in case of a campus requests.
“We just go grab a few and run. You don’t have to take down the whole palette and dig out a box,” Miller said.
“Palettes typically come by grade and subject. They don’t come divided, so we literally come out and divide by campus re-palettize everything by campus so we need … this area open. We’re going to try and put shelving on the perimeter so we have somewhere to work because that’s what we do all day, every day,” Miller said.
Textbooks and consumables, such as writing workbooks, are delivered one subject at a time. Miller said the workbooks should go home with the students and they should be using them every day.
Miller said the warehouse makes the deliveries to campuses. She added that she usually has one person on duty inside to handle people who come in for such items as transcripts and shot records.
“Right now, we’re auditing. We audit all the campuses’ textbooks every June to make sure they don’t have any major losses. If students lose a book, they have them pay for it so we just have to make sure our audit’s correct here and at the campuses. Then in April we audit student records,” Miller said.
“The only thing that has to go back is large print or Braille. Those have to be returned. Everything else you have to find someone — a charter school, a private school, or they can be recycled. Usually, the whole state is getting rid of virtually the same thing. It’s a lot of recycling, so we then have to palletize all of those old products and they come and pick them up when we call for them. But that’s kind of the next step after delivery. Then we’ll pick up old, so there’s a lot of transferring …,” Miller said.
Miller said everything that goes into the textbook and records process is hard to fathom “when you’ve never lived it.”
“You have to take care of and inventory these products because this is a lot of investment,” Náñez said. “And so every year, they do textbook audits. They go to campuses. The AP (assistant principal) usually is the one that works the inventory audit and so that’s how we account for all the materials that are shipped out and they have to clear Amy. When they have a perfect audit, she lets us know.”