Trustees get a look at potential growth
The ECISD Board of Trustees held its February Work Study on the evening of the 10th. A recap of the agenda is below. All Work Study agenda items are discussion only; no formal action or votes are taken.
- Trustees heard a presentation from four New Tech Odessa students who traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in the Model Organization of American States conference and contest. This was the first time ECISD sent a team to this event.
- The school district’s new demographer, Population and Survey Analysts (PASA), presented the results of several months’ worth of demographic study. Superintendent Tom Crowe asked PASA to layout population and student projections for the next 10 years in order to give Trustees and the community a place to start conversations about future building. The main points of the presentation from Dr. Sara Ashburn & Kris Poole:
- PASA has worked with a number of school districts in Texas during fast-growth and periods of change;
- After their initial research, they have done an extensive review of housing plans since oil prices began to drop;
- They look at economic data, enrollment trends (for the region, detoo), housing permits and planned units, and employment trends;
- They put together a series of projects ranging from what they view is a likely growth scenario to what they term a low-growth scenario;
- There are housing developments in various stages of planning throughout Ector County right now. Six of them, mostly single-family houses in NE Ector County, could add up to 15,000 new units by 2024;
- They use mathematical formulas for kids per household along with the new building projections to forecast enrollment, and based on planned housing developments it could mean student growth up to 36,000-38,000 by 2019 and 40,000-45,000 by 2024;
- The point of doing these projections is to determine the best locations for new schools in the future and to plan for those buildings. If the growth doesn’t materialize the building can be delayed but the plans for growth will already exist.
School board president Dr. Steve Brown stated this is all very good information and asked for plans to be developed to share this information with the public.
- Trustees heard presentations of the state-mandated improvement plans for the 10 schools rated Improvement Required. Each of those schools – Odessa HS, John B. Hood JH, Ector JH, Blanton Elementary, Burleson Elementary, LBJ Elementary, Noel Elementary, Ross Elementary, San Jacinto Elementary, and Zavala Elementary – talked to the board about their improvement goals and the strategies they are using to meet those goals.
- The state requires each school district to keep a certain amount of money in fund balance (20% of operating budget) in order cover unexpected situations or events. With the recent growth in local property values and student enrollment, and with the large number of employee vacancies over the last two years ECISD now finds itself with about $35 million more than is required and is evaluating a number of past and future capital improvement projects. NOTE: The vast majority of the money is from vacant positions the district has not been able to fill over the last couple of years. Those positions (teachers, administrators, aides, maintenance workers, bus drivers, mechanics, etc.) are part of the budget each year and the district tries to fill every one of them. When those positions are not filled that money moves into the fund balance the next year; when you consider more than 80% of ECISD's annual budget is people, the number of openings the last couple of years creates a considerable amount of money being carried over. Mr. Crowe suggested this money be spent on one-time expenses and not added to recurring costs that the district will have to fund year after year. He added this money can also be re-designated in the future if the Trustees find other projects they would like to fund at a later date. Among the categories of projects Trustees will consider are Campus & Instruction improvements (teacher desks and chairs, classroom equipment, materials replacement, music instruments); Facilities & Operations (playgrounds and beautification, roofs and parking lots, maintenance vehicles, land purchase); Information Technology (classroom computers, laptop carts, new technology for high school additions, network equipment); and Athletics (phase III of turf installation—fields at junior highs.) NOTE: This is not a complete list.
- Trustees reviewed the list of items over $50,000.
- Trustees reviewed the Quarterly Investment Report.
- Trustees reviewed the proposed policy change that will require our high school seniors to meet all state graduation requirements – including passing all 5 End of Course exams – in order to participate in the graduation ceremony. Trustees plan to vote on this proposal next week.
- Trustees discussed the election order and notice for May 9, 2015 election. Three Trustees’ spots are up for election this spring Position 1 (Luis Galvan), Position 3 (Dr. Donna Smith), and Position 6 (Dr. Ray Beaty.)
- Trustees discuss the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the final phase of bond construction at Permian High School, Phase III: Kitchen, Cafeteria Expansion & Interior. One month ago the initial bids for this project came in at approximately $4.8 million for general construction and $2.3 million for cafeteria construction ($7.1 million total) Trustees asked district officials to find ways to reduce those costs. Later bids cut $612,000, and other changes reduced the cost by another $106,000. In addition to those savings our School Nutrition Department agreed to fund $2.3 million in cafeteria improvements and equipment from its budget, money that will not be taken from the bond funds. The total projected cost of Phase III (in bond funds) is $4,092,930.
Items that require a vote will be placed on next week’s agenda for action to be taken.
The meeting adjourned at 9:51 p.m.