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Trustees approve 2 Early Release Days for the spring semester

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held a workshop on December 8. A recap of the agenda is below.


  1. Roll Call. Delma Abalos was absent.


  1. Verification of Compliance with Open Meeting Law.


  1. In his opening remarks, Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri thanked the Ector County Commissioners and the Odessa City Council for their approval of funds to help reimburse the school district for the purchase of Chromebooks, iPads and WiFi hotspots this fall. Dr. Muri attended the Commissioners’ Court today to thank them in person and he said he would do the same with the City Council. He held this up as a remarkable example of three government entities working together to improve options for their local students.


  1. There was no public comment.


  1. Action items

A. Trustees voted 6-0 to approve amendments to the school calendars. In order to give teachers and campus staff extra time for data-driven instructional planning and preparation, the District is going to change two days in the spring semester to Early Release Days (half-days of instruction and half-days of professional development). February 2 and March 2 will be those half-days for all schools except our two early college high schools (OCTECHS and Odessa Collegiate Academy) which will have their Early Release Days on February 12 and March 5.


  1. Reports/Discussion Items

A. Trustees heard a report on Choice Schools. For many years these went by the name magnet schools. The application period is open right now and will remain open through January 17. ECISD currently offers 9 Choice options for elementary students, one Choice option for middle schools and three for high schools. Information about the application process and links to information about each of those Choice Schools can be found on our website – Student choice is a key provision of our District’s Strategic Plan. Trustees began a discussion about a Choice School plan to create a broader vision for student success; engage community, workforce and district stakeholders for input; identify interests and needs of students and external stakeholders to develop potential future Choice School options; create additional choices where our students can demonstrate their interest and strengths, and parents are partners.


B. The Early Childhood team gave Trustees a look into its work and what it means to be Kindergarten Ready. Pre-K focuses on pre-reading and writing skills, gross and fine motor skills, language and communication, concepts and thinking. Kindergarten Readiness is a strategic priority for our District. This school year, ECISD expanded Full Day Pre-K to a total of 20 schools (up from 12). Pre-K enrollment stands at 1,264 students down about 300 from a year ago due to COVID concerns. The State of Texas defines criteria for eligibility for free Pre-K, if a student does not meet those eligibility requirements he/she may still attend Pre-K with a tuition of $2,000 per year. As of this meeting, 83% of ECISD Pre-K students are attending school face-to-face, with 17% learning online. The team pointed out this year’s Kindergarten reading data show 67% of the students who attended ECISD Pre-K last year are scoring higher than students who did not attend ECISD Pre-K last year, and even scoring higher than national averages – highlighting the strong work done by ECISD Pre-K teachers last year despite the pandemic interruption. Coming next year (2021-22 school year) ECISD is committed to finding a partner to create 3-year-old Pre-K for 1,000 students.


C. The Board discussed its 2020-21 Budget Priorities. A budget shortfall at the state level is expected to be precipitous, and because education (PK-12 and higher education) makes up 52% of the state’s bi-annual budget, that shortfall is likely to impact school districts in a significant way. This is something ECISD leaders are watching daily and will continue to do so as the Texas Legislative session begins in January. The Trustees’ discussion focused on prioritizing employees and compensation; not losing ground on the recent work done to recover from severe staffing shortages of the last several years and boosting morale; and keeping resources necessary to provide a quality educational experience for all students, paying particular attention to areas of need.


  1. There was no closed session.


  1. There were no closing remarks.


  1. The meeting adjourned at 7:53 p.m.