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Trustees approve new principal hires

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held its March Work Study on the evening of the 5th. A recap of the agenda is below.


  1. Roll Call.


  1. Chief Technology Officer Kellie Wilks took a few minutes to introduce her team from the Technology Department.


  1. Verification of Compliance with Open Meetings Law.


  1. Report/Discussion Items

A.Trustees reviewed the Constraint Progress Measures and the Timeline they developed through their Lone Star Governance training. A Constraint is a rule the Board of Trustees puts in place to direct the superintendent’s work. Trustees plan to approve their Goals and Constraints, and the means to measure them, later in the spring.


B. Trustees heard a report on the participation and results of the 2018 PSAT. A total of 1,416 juniors and 1,825 sophomores took the test in October. Our school district pays for all students to take this test. Fifteen percent of the juniors met the benchmark standard for both reading and math; 16% of the sophomores met the benchmark standard for both reading and math.


C. The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) recently completed a review of ECISD’s pay structure. The TASB study looks at existing jobs and compares them to similar districts around the state. The ultimate goal is to offer recommendations to districts to help them build pay systems that do not overpay or underpay for positions.

A few key points: ECISD teacher salaries are even with or exceed area school districts at all levels; teacher stipends are competitive; teacher salaries lag behind comparable districts around the state (outside of this area) at the start of the salary schedule, catch up by Year 10, then fall slightly behind again after Year 15. TASB offered a series of recommendations to strengthen starting salaries, establish standards for annual pay increases, and review some contract days and stipends to create a fairer pay system, and operations that are more efficient. Of course, all pay increases affect the school district’s bottom line and administrators and school board members will consider the ramifications of all recommendations as they build future budgets.


D. Trustees received an update on the progress of schools rated Improvement Required or having a “D” rating. Sixth grade is a target area at all middle schools, as is 7th grade math. In elementary, Alamo, Blackshear, and Burnet are all showing good growth.


E. Trustees heard a report on the progress toward the goal of increasing the percentage of high school graduates who are college, career, and military ready. This is part of the STAAR Accountability system. These numbers lag by one year, so this year’s ratings will include the percentages from the Class of 2018. The percentages for the Class of 2019 are up from a year ago.


F. Trustees received an update on the budget process for 2019-2020. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Howard outlined the budget-building process that is underway. The district works within the current law, even as it monitors bills that are being filed by the Texas Legislature now. Tax values estimates, historic tax collection rates, enrollment projections, and average daily attendance projections all play into available revenue calculations. Potential pay increases, possible health insurance increases, staffing ratios, and setting costs for unfilled positions are all costs considered in building the budget.


G. Trustees heard the first reading of TASB Update 112, which are that organization’s recommendation for policy changes.


H. Trustees heard the district’s plans for summer school. Summer school will have a different look this year. It will be held at fewer schools in order to consolidate classrooms and teachers; there will be Kindergarten through 2nd grade reading; Bilingual Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten; 5th grade, 8th grade, high school, Special Education, and Camp SIP (gifted/talented); and each day will offer fun enrichment activities in the afternoon to give students more incentive to attend. The enrichment offerings will be for elementary and middle school students, and will include art, music and dance, athletics, culinary, robotics, storytelling and chess. The activities will be age appropriate. Most of the sessions will start on May 29.


  1. Action Items

A. Trustees voted 7-0 to cancel the May 4, 2019, school board elections. Only one candidate filed to run in each of the three races so no election is necessary. Incumbent Carol Gregg will continue to represent Position 1; incumbent Dr. Donna C. Smith will continue to represent Position 3; and Tammy Hawkins will represent Position 6, where current Trustee Ray Beaty is not seeking re-election.


B. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the materials for Proclamation 2019. The approximate cost for Kindergarten through 8th grade literacy materials is $4.2 million, which will cover the cost of consumables for the life of the adoption (8 years.)


C. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve purchases over $50,000. Two items are on this list ths month: the roof replacement for Ireland Elementary at a little more than $1.3 million, and the lease/purchase agreement for 30 new school buses. The money for both of these items comes from the voter-approved Tax Ratification Election last November.


D. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with the “I Love U Guys” Foundation for a new standard response protocol for emergency situations. ECISD Chief of Police Todd Hiner told board members the district would be changing the language used to call for, and respond to, lockdowns and other emergencies. Heavy training will be done to inform district employees, students and families.


E. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Texas Food Bank. This agreement will allow the ECISD School Nutrition Department to donate leftover/excess foot items to the Food Bank.


F. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the minutes from February’s board meetings. This is usually part of the Consent Agenda each month. There is no Consent Agenda for this meeting.


G. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve bills for payment. This is usually part of the Consent Agenda each month.


H. Trustees voted 7-0 to approve additional employees who are now certified as T-TESS appraisers.


  1. Trustees spent 40 minutes in closed session discussing hiring. After the closed session Nelson Minyard did not return for the votes.

A. Trustees voted 5-0-1 to approve Karl Miller as the campus principal for OCTECHS (Odessa Career & Technical Early College High School) for 2019-20. Delma Abalos abstained. Mr. Miller is currently an assistant principal at Permian High School, his second year in that position. He spent four years as an assistant principal in Edgewood ISD in San Antonio and has ten years of experience as a principal in school districts in Washington, Oregon and Montana.


B. Administrators announced the assignment of James Ramage as the campus principal for Falcon Early College High School for 2019-20. Mr. Ramage is currently the principal at Bonham Middle School, and was the principal at Permian High School for four years. He also worked at Odessa High School as an assistant principal for three years. Because this is a move within the school district it did not require a vote from the school board.


C. Trustees voted 5-0-1 to approve Jessica Rickman as the campus principal for Buice Elementary School. Delma Abalos abstained. Jessica is currently the interim principal at Buice, and has been the assistant principal there for four years. She has worked as an elementary teacher and an elementary counselor.


D. Trustees voted 5-1 to approve Alicia Syverson as the assistant superintendent for student & school support. Doyle Woodall voted against the motion. Mrs. Syverson comes from Midland ISD where she was working as an executive director of elementary education. Before that, she spent three years at the Region 18 Education Service Center as a leadership consultant, and has nine years of principal experience – all here in ECISD – at Downing Elementary, Cameron Elementary, and Noel Elementary. She will replace Ann McClarty who is retiring at the end of this school year.


The meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.