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Trustees hear report on back to school and internet access for students

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held a workshop on the evening of August 11. 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, reminded board members that tomorrow is the first day of school and he would be talking more about the plans later in the meeting.

 

 

  1. There was no public comment.

 

 

  1. Action items

 

A. Trustees voted 6-0 to approve plans for early childhood, and college, career and military readiness.

 

B. Trustees voted 6-0 to approve 40% campus hybrid instruction for 9th-12th grade students.

 

C. Trustees voted 6-0 to approve a waiver to extend the start of the 2020-21 school year beyond the four-week limit. Currently, the ECISD Phase-in is shorter than four weeks, however, if the presence of the novel coronavirus were to increase, that Phase-in period could be extended. This waiver would allow District leaders to make necessary adjustments if an extension is needed.

 

D. Trustees voted to approve allowing the superintendent to submit waiver requests on behalf of the District.

 

E. Trustees voted to approve revisions to the Student Code of Conduct. The changes came after further work with the Equity Task Force and school district administrators.

 

F. Trustees voted to approve an Interlocal agreement with Region 4 for “Operation Connectivity”. This cooperative arrangement gives ECISD the ability to purchase devices for about half of the regular price. Through this opportunity, the District will order 5,825 iPads; 6,507 Chromebooks; and 1,000 MiFi devices for about $1.8 million. The regular prices for the same purchases would be closer to $4 million.      

 

 

  1. Reports/Discussion items.

 

A. Trustees heard an update on the work to expand broadband to all of Ector County. Our school district is working on a plan to help find a long-term solution to provide broadband (high speed) internet access to all students and families throughout the county. A cross section of community leaders were brought into the study and agreed internet access for all should be a priority project for Ector County. ECISD is leading that work. Research shows many gaps in coverage exist locally; the most rural areas typically have the slowest and least reliable internet options; and the District’s goal is for all residents to have affordable access to speeds of 100 megabits/second downloads and 10 megabit/second uploads. Trustees saw maps of cell phone towers, data of coverage areas, and learned that 1 in 5 ECISD students rarely or never has reliable internet access at home. Superintendent Muri told Trustees a panel of national connectivity experts are already working with us to study the situation and help find a long-term solution for Odessa and Ector County.

 

B. Trustees received an update on the plans for starting school. Dr. Muri walked the Trustees through a brief recap of the plan for starting school – the next day (August 12). By the numbers: it is about a 50-50 split between parents choosing remote learning or in-person learning for their student; 2,851 students are registered to ride buses, about half of the normal number of riders; and the number of teacher vacancies is down dramatically from one year ago (currently there are 91 vacancies in elementary schools and 31 in secondary schools). A total of 407 teachers have been hired this year. He reminded board members school starts with a limited number of students on campus. Groups of students will be phased-in over a period of weeks. Back to school information is available at ectorcountyisd.org/backtoschool.

 

 

  1. There was no closed session.

 

 

  1. There we no closing remarks but before dismissing Trustee Tammy Hawkins thanked all the employees of ECISD for the incredible amount of work they have done to prepare for this school year. She said the school board is proud of everyone, and all Trustees stood and gave the team an ovation.

  

  1. The meeting adjourned at 7:41 p.m.