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Federal grant to provide nearly $9 million for teacher, principal incentives

Ector County ISD leaders are excited to announce the school district has received notice of a three-year, $8.99 million federal grant that will create a new human capital investment to develop and reward teachers, principals and campus leadership teams who improve student performance in math and English language arts/reading. The grant is from the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program through the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education. It adds yet another tactic to ECISD’s highly effective Human Capital strategy.


“This is a very competitive, federal grant,” said ECISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri. “Only 29 educational entities in United States earned one of these awards.


“We pursued this opportunity because it fits our human capital philosophy of recruiting, retaining, and rewarding excellence among our team members. This grant enables us to accelerate that strategy, and means ECISD will be among the highest paying districts in the United States when it comes to the most effective principals and teachers.” he said.


ECISD is calling this initiative LEAP – Leadership for Ector’s Accelerated Performance – and it will initially focus on 10 schools that have a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. These schools serve 9,739 students with 556 teachers and 10 principals.


LEAP provides professional development opportunities designed to sharpen the skills of teachers to be effective instructors, and to strengthen the school’s instructional leadership teams. At the same time, LEAP aligns incentive pay to instructional priorities through a performance-based compensation system that rewards educators who improve their instructional practice and increase student growth in English, language arts, and math. It also rewards effective educators and principals who take on positions at high-need schools serving a diverse student population.


“LEAP builds on our existing strategic compensation and staffing,” said ECISD Executive Director of Human Resources Dr. Matthew Spivy. “Our most effective teachers could earn an additional $15,000 annually, and our most effective principals up to $30,000 in additional compensation. And it serves high-need schools across our district.”


The base of support for this initiative, and for the sustainability plan, is both extensive and exemplary. The Superintendent, Board, and staff support LEAP. The initiative also has the support of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce which recognizes the importance of effective recruitment, development, and retention strategies for the educational workforce. Moreover, LEAP builds on partnerships with six regional colleges and universities: The University of Texas Permian Basin, Odessa College, University of Texas El Paso, Texas Tech University, Sul Ross State University, and Angelo State University. These partnerships support the recruitment and development of a diverse, well-prepared teacher workforce for years to come.


That base of support includes the Permian Strategic Partnership, which has provided funding for previous district efforts like National Board certification and Principal Incentive Allotment, successful initiatives that laid the groundwork for earning this federal grant.


“The Permian Strategic Partnership is a proud partner of ECISD,” said Tracee Bentley, President/CEO of the Permian Strategic Partnership. “We have supported previous district efforts to improve teacher and principal effectiveness. We are delighted these human capital investments have been successful and are leading to more opportunities for the district. This is the exact kind of model the PSP looks for when looking to make investments.”


ECISD is already experienced in implementing and sustaining similar Human Capital tactics like Teacher Incentive Allotment, Opportunity Culture, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, Odessa Pathway to Teaching, Paid Teacher Residency program, Registered Apprenticeship for Teachers, Para to Teacher, Future Teachers of Odessa, Principal Incentive Allotment, Principal Fellow programs with Texas Tech and UTPB, Holdsworth Leadership training, Aspiring Principal Academy, and college prep pathway programs for counselors, speech pathologists, and diagnosticians.


Schools included in this initial rollout of LEAP are Odessa High School, Bowie Middle School, Bonham Middle School, Blackshear Elementary, Dowling Elementary, Downing Elementary, Goliad Elementary, Sam Houston Elementary, San Jacinto Elementary, and West Elementary.


“This is good news for our staff members and great news for our students,” said Odessa High School principal Anthony Garcia. “As we improve, our kids have more access to great teachers and great schools. Kids win and our community wins.”


“We know that investing in teachers and leaders is the right thing to do,” added Dr. Muri. “Research is very clear. The #1factor that increases student achievement is the teacher. And the #2 factor is the leader.”


About Ector County ISD

Ector County ISD serves more than 33,500 students across the 900 square miles of Odessa and surrounding communities in Ector County, Texas, and is rated a “B” school district by the Texas Education Agency. Believing OUR Students are THE Future, the mission of Ector County ISD is to inspire and challenge every student to be prepared for success and to be adaptable in an ever-changing society. ECISD was founded in 1921 and is now into its second century of developing leaders for Odessa, the State of Texas and beyond.