The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held its regular meeting for February on the evening of the 21st, a recap of the agenda is below.
Noel Elementary students Andrea Landeros & Charlie Walker led the pledges of allegiance.
Reverend Marcos Zuniga from New Life Chapel gave the invocation.
The special presentations included a performance by and recognition of the Austin Montessori Elementary guitar class, introduction of facilities director Gary Weatherford as the World Class Leader in Education award winner (pictured below), and announcement of 3 awards (productivity award, top program award, and administrator of the year) won by our Student Crime Stoppers program at the recent state conference.
A. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve a resolution to start the process of becoming a District of Innovation. With the resolution approved a public meeting will be scheduled for next week, a local development team will be appointed by Trustees to develop a plan, and that plan will be brought back to Trustees for review. According to the preliminary timeline a final plan would be presented to the school board for adoption on April 11. The concept of a District of Innovation was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 (HB 1842). This law allows traditional independent school districts to access most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools. In order to be eligible a school district must have an accountability rating of Met Standard.
Quite a bit of discussion preceded this vote. Three teachers asked to address the school board. Shari Story said she would like to see the administration take more time to educate the community and district employees on what District of Innovation means, and said her biggest concern is with the idea of getting a waiver for the 22:1 Student to Teacher ratio for kindergarten through fourth-grade classes. Steven Copeland also said he feels the timeline for approving DOI is too compressed and would like to see more time to talk about it. Christopher Bartlett said the DOI is a new concept so not much time has passed to see the benefits or drawbacks from other districts that have implemented it; he said he knows the superintendent and school board have the best interests of students at heart but would worry that future leaders might take advantage of stipulations in the waiver.
Trustees had many questions about their ability to control and define the parameters of the DOI plan, for instance the length of the waiver, the annual review of the waiver, and amendments to it. Carol Gregg asked that the DOI committee include a number of parents and community members as well as teachers. Superintendent of Schools Tom Crowe said he has spoke publicly about requesting a waiver for only four areas (of many available) – the calendar, specifically the start date; 22:1 class size exemption; certification requirements for Career & Technical Education teachers; and student performance as a factor in teacher and administrator appraisals – because those are the ones he feels can benefit our school district the most. He said of those four areas the 22:1 class size limit is the one he is concerned about the least, and if the DOI committee chose to remove that from consideration it would be okay. He explained that the DOI committee will ultimately be the ones deciding which waivers are requested and the school board must approve the plan before it can be submitted, giving them the control they desire from the process.
B. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda is a group of previously discussed or routine items presented for approval together. A few of the items approved on this month’s Consent Agenda were a request for Permian High School’s choir students to travel to a festival in Chicago; the list of Dual Credit courses for the 2017-18 school year (to see the course lists go to this link, under B see item 8); extension of bank depository contract; new T-TESS appraisers; a low attendance waiver for December 8; the election order and notice for the May 6 Board of Trustees election; and the transfer of 2 vehicles to the Odessa College Law Enforcement Academy.
C. There was no closed session.
The meeting adjourned at 7:07 p.m.