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Trustees hear from potential Ector Middle School charter partner

 

 

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held a workshop on February 9. A recap of the agenda is below.

 

  1. Roll Call.

 

  1. Verification of Compliance with Open Meeting Law.

 

  1. In his opening remarks, Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri pointed out that Monday is the bad weather make-up day for the snow day we took in October; however, it looks like it could become a bad weather day itself! He reminded parents to please keep their eye on the weather forecast and look for announcements from the school district. But, he said, as of right now, Monday, February 15, is a regular school day for all of our students.

 

  1. There was no public comment.

 

  1. Reports/Discussion Items

A. Trustees heard a presentation from Third Future Schools, the potential new charter partner for Ector Middle School. Third Future is a four-year old network and runs schools in Colorado and Texas (Midland). Leaders of Third Future told the ECISD board they have a unique instructional model and a track record of success. They said, with a focus on rigorous academics and extracurricular activities, all Third Future Schools are on track to attain approximately 1.5 times the growth the average student in the U.S. made prior to COVID. They said some of the key features of the Third Future model are learning how to learn, developing personal habits of success, setting high expectations for all students and giving students valuable experiences (such as electives, labs and travel). Also, the model focuses on differentiated, personalized learning for students; learning at or above grade level every day; and highly competitive educator salaries with embedded professional development, coaching and support. Additionally, the doors of the school are open 6:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for families. Trustees questioned Third Future leaders on facility operations, parent engagement, methods of teaching during COVID, curriculum, teacher attrition, discipline data, financial management, make-up of the network’s independent board, and the transition timeline.

 

B. Trustees received the quarterly update on the progress of three strategic plan initiatives that are underway. First, ECISD has worked in several ways to provide home internet connectivity to families. Since last May, our District has: worked in partnership with two local internet providers (Sparklight and Grande) to identify families within their services areas who need service and to provide that service, free of charge for one year; purchased and provided wireless hotspots for families who need and request it; is replacing wireless hotspots at 25 of our poorest schools that will give the connectivity to the area immediately around the school; and partnered with SpaceX to utilize satellite technology to provide internet in one rural section of the county. All of these include grant money from outside entities who want to be part of these efforts to support students. ECISD is also part of a community task force to develop long-term solutions to the broadband internet connectivity issue. Second, our District has begun a series of efforts to cultivate talent pipelines in order to “grow our own” teachers and develop the next generation of leaders. Examples of teacher training programs are the teacher academy for high school students (a Career & Technical Education pathway), Opportunity Culture which includes teacher residents (college students), and the Odessa Pathway to Teaching which is an alternative certification program run by ECISD. In terms of training leaders, the Emerging Leader Academy gives teachers the opportunity to train to become assistant principals, and the Aspiring Leader Academy, and a planned Principal Residency, are designed to train those interested in becoming principals. Third, our ECISD team is working to make Blended Learning a system-wide practice; Blended Learning defined as a student having some control, in some manner, over his or her own learning. It enables personalized learning for all students. Teach to One, which is the core math curriculum at three of our middle schools is one example of Blended Learning in ECISD. The Raising Blended Learners grant at two elementary campuses is another example, this one focusing on early childhood literacy. Ongoing Blended Learning professional development is available for any teachers interested in getting started and then further developing their skills in this area.

 

C. The Development Office gave board members an overview of its activities and new scope of work. Formerly called the Education Foundation, the Development Office has now broadened its scope of work to include the Education Foundation, Volunteers, Partnerships, and grant writing. In all efforts, the department supports ECISD’s strategic plan through research of issues and solutions, creating awareness of the District’s needs, building community collaboration and lasting partnerships. A few (and only a few) examples of the Development Office’s work over the past year are 25 new Little Free Libraries placed across our District; Bookworm vending machines placed inside schools; the Bookworms reading program impacting more than 6,000 students in Pre-kindergarten through 1st grade; a blanket drive for students; and delivery of school meals to students learning from home during this pandemic (388 volunteers delivered 44,800 meals to more than 3,000 children). The Development Office plans to continue growing the Bookworms Literary Program and finding ways to connect the community and our District to serve the needs of our students and staff.

 

D. Trustees heard the first reading of TASB Policy Update 116. Suggested revisions to five local policies come at the recommendation of the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). These same policies will be presented to the school board at the meeting on February 16 for a vote.

 

E. In his legislative update, Dr. Muri reminded Trustees the Texas Legislature is now back in session but January, February and March are usually pretty slow in regard to any changes. He told Trustees the budget projections are better than originally anticipated before the session started. Broadband connectivity is also another big issue and the State has looked at the work done in ECISD as a model for other communities to pursue. Dr. Muri added there is a discussion among legislators to cancel the administration of STAAR testing this spring; as of today, the state plans administer the tests but not to count them for any accountability purposes.

 

  1. There was no closed session.

 

  1. There were no closing remarks.  

  

  1. The meeting adjourned at 8:56 p.m.