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School board approves 2018-19 budget; plans to ask for a tax rate election in the fall

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held its regular meeting for June on the evening of the 26th. A recap of the agenda is below.


Camp SIP students Keira Andis & Kylie Andis led the pledges of allegiance.

Camp SIP students Keira Andis & Kylie Andis pose with Superintendent Crowe and school board member Dr. Steve Brown.






Reverend Donnie Williams from The Bridge Church gave the invocation.


Special presentations included the introduction of the 2017-18 Employees of the Year, recognition of Permian High School’s Calyha Brown, and New Tech Odessa students Ethan Baeza and Emilia Gutierrez for their work with the United Way of Odessa Allocation Committee, and announcement of Odessa High School’s Mayely Carrasco winning the State Board of Education Student Hero Award.


2017-18 ECISD Employees of the Year

Administrator of the Year – Natalie Fitzgerald, principal at Milam Elementary

Counselor of the Year – Susan Garcia, Ross Elementary

Classified Employee – Cristina Velasquez, Buice Elementary

Custodian of the Year – Christopher Jackson, head custodian at Blanton Elementary

Maintenance Employee of the Year – Julio Mancha, grounds foreman

Nurse of the Year – Amanda Castellanos, Milam Elementary

School Nutrition – Rhonda Long, cafeteria manager at Wilson & Young MS

Transportation Employee of the Year – Sepharine Bugayong, special needs driver foreman

Elementary Teacher – Monica Olivas, 4th grade teacher at Milam Elementary

Secondary Teacher – Kelsey Worthy, English teacher at Falcon Early College High School


A. Trustees heard that the Student Health Advisory Council (SHAC) would like to make school safety one of the topics it researches next year.


B. Trustees discussed a Proposed Chapter 313 agreement for tax credits and value limitations for a potential solar panel project in Ector County. Bob Popinski from Moak, Casey & Associates – a school finance and accountability firm from Austin – explained the process of the Chapter 313 agreement. The first step is for a company to submit an application to the school district for the project. The application includes a fee that will cover the school district’s need to hire a consultant for the process. Mr. Popinski told Trustees that provisions of the agreement ensure the district has means to recoup money it would lose through limiting the appraised value of the project for a specific period of time, the length of which would be defined in the agreement. This was only a discussion item; no action was taken.


C. Trustees voted 7-0 to revert to the traditional method for adopting a tax rate. Earlier this month Trustees voted for an early adoption, in June, of the tax rate for next year. Since then they decided they will wait and adopt the tax rate in August, when it is normally done.


D. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the 2018-19 Budget. The Board approved a total general fund budget of a little over $275 million, approximately $32.4 million more than last year. The largest part of the increase is based on the successful passage of a Tax Ratification Election in the fall. If that TRE does not pass, $17.6 million of this budget will be cut.

The items included in the budget that are tied to the successful tax rate increase are: 2.75% raise for all employees ($7 million); deductibles for roof repairs ($6.25 million); replacement of 15 buses ($1.5 million); Restoring 20% of department budgets cut over the last two years ($1 million); budget for 9 elementary teaching positions for anticipated enrollment growth ($550,000); supplemental middle school reading curriculum ($500,000); controlled access at campuses ($300,000); replacement of six police cars ($200,000); equipment upkeep and repair ($200,000); and 2 lesson writers as recommended by WLK audit ($130,000.) These are items that could change based on the Trustees’ final decision on a tax rate.


Apart from the TRE, some of the costs increases projected for the coming year include the expense of the Ector Middle School initiative ($1.3 million), increase in school and student accounts to pre-cut levels ($2.39 million), increase in estimated Teacher Retirement System benefit costs ($1.19 million), increase in property insurance premiums ($705,000), increase in estimated health insurance and workers comp costs ($715,000) and increased operational needs ($534,000). The projected increases in revenue fall far short of covering these increases and replacing the more than $30 million that has been cut or not spent (no staff raises the past two years), the past three years due to the dramatic drop of appraised values.

At Tuesday’s meeting the school board also approved – as required by law – a food service budget of about $15.7 million (a decrease of more than $830,000) and a debt service budget of $13.1 million (a decrease of more than $1.6 million).

No one requested to speak to the board about the budget.


With the budget passed and based on the maximum tax rate of $1.17 per $100 valuation, the school board can agree to adopt that tax rate or a lower one when it votes on that tax rate in August.


E. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve Adan “Adam” Portillo as the new principal for the Alternative Education Center. Mr. Portillo comes from Midland Lee HS where he has been an assistant principal. He also coached and taught in junior high in Midland and taught/coached at stops in Valentine ISD and Sanderson ISD.


F. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve Katy Ochoa as the new principal at Ireland Elementary. Mrs. Ochoa comes from Midland ISD where she has worked as a teacher, math specialist and assistant principal since 2008. She replaces Jamie Miller who left the position at Ireland to become the ECISD Literacy Director.


G. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve Board Policy DK(Local): Assignment and Schedules.


H. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve Board Policy DNB(Local): Performance Appraisal: Evaluation of Camps Administrators.


I. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve roof removal and replacements for Cavazos Elementary, Frost Technical Education Center, George H.W. Bush New Tech Odessa, and the Maintenance & Transportation buildings. National Roof Central, LLC for $3,341,990, submitted the lowest bid. The repairs are the final ones necessary from the hail storm in 2016.


J. Trustees had no new input about their plans for a superintendent search. The board is seeking request for proposals from search firms.


K. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the Consent Agenda. The Consent Agenda is a group of routine or previously discussed items presented for approval at one time. This month’s Consent Agenda included a Memorandum of Understanding with Odessa College for OCTECHS, out-of-state travel for the Odessa HS Showgirls, Budget Amendment #4, GASB 54 resolution, purchases over $50,000, T-TESS appraisal calendars and timelines, and a contract with the College Board. One of the items – hiring of N2 Learning, LC, to lead the district’s Visioning Institute – was pulled from the Consent Agenda for further discussion and a separate vote. Trustees delayed the vote on this item until next month.


L. Trustees spent more than one hour in closed session hearing a parent concern and discussing personnel items.


M. Trustees approved new officers for the coming year. Doyle Woodall will be the board president, Dr. Donna Smith will be the new vice president, and Delma Abalos is the secretary.


The meeting adjourned at 8:22 p.m.