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Trustees get strategic plan update

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held a workshop on April 13. 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 spoke briefly about this week’s PreK Round Up. He said our District is looking for as many as 2,000 3-year-old and 4-year-old children to fill our prekindergarten classes. In addition to the online application, our PreK teams are out on location all week – a different school each day – to help interested parents with the application process. ECISD offers full-day PreK for 4-year-olds and (new this year) half-day PreK for 3-year-olds. Information is on the ECISD website.  

 

  1. There was no public comment.

 

  1. Action Items

A. Trustees voted 6-0-1 to approve purchases over $50,000. Four items, including consulting services, ACCESS for post-secondary readiness, student accident insurance, and renovations/construction at Crockett Middle School, were included. Steve Brown abstained from the vote.

 

  1. Reports/Discussion Items

A. Trustees reviewed the quarterly update of the strategic plan work. This presentation focused on three specific projects: introducing modified zero-based budgeting; strengthening professional learning communities; and incorporating strategic staffing and compensation. A modified version of Zero-based budgeting is being done this year for all ECISD departments (campuses use a different budgeting approach called Line Item). In Zero-based budgeting, each department begins at $0 and all non-payroll program activities and services must be requested based on need and justified annually. A professional learning community (PLC) is a team of educators working together to enhance their teaching practice and create a dynamic learning environment for all students. These regular discussions center on The Four Questions: What do we want all students to know and be able to do? How will we know if they learn it? How will we respond when some students do not learn? How will we extend the learning for students who are already proficient? These PLC discussions are student-specific and based on data-driven instructional decisions. Finally, strategic staffing and compensation is used to recruit, retain and grow talented employees. Two of the initiatives that are underway this year, and specifically focused on our teachers, are Opportunity Culture and Teacher Incentive Allotment. Opportunity Culture builds campus teams to reach more students with the most effective teachers; gives teachers career advancement opportunities; pays teachers more for taking on leadership roles; and provides daily, embedded professional learning opportunities. The Teacher Incentive Allotment was developed by the Texas Legislature and it provides funding to pay highly effective teachers whose students show measurable academic growth. ECISD applied to the state to be included in TIA Cohort C. In this application teachers in the subject areas of PK through 8th reading and math, plus Algebra I, English I, and English II are eligible to be submitted for designation in October 2021. ECISD is working on an application for the state’s Cohort D that would add 3rd through 8th grade science. The District’s plan is to develop the system to include all teachers in all areas over the next few years.

 

B. Trustees heard a report on redesign work happening at Noel Elementary School, LBJ Elementary School, and Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School. The District received a School Action Fund (SAF) grant to provide customized planning and support to improve teaching/learning experiences for students at campuses that expressed interest in change. Leaders involved a broad spectrum of people – district leaders, school leaders, teachers, parents, students and community representatives – in developing plans for all three campuses. The stakeholders expressed their desire for a growth mindset among students and teachers; opportunities for parents to engage with the school; and strong relationships between teachers and parents. Personalized instruction, with a focus on Blended Learning is a key component of this work. Blended Learning defined as, a student having some control, in some manner, over his or her own learning. The plans also provide for social-emotional support of the whole child – through mental health supports and after-school enrichment opportunities.

 

C. Trustees received a separate report on the improvement plans for Crockett Middle School and Wilson & Young Middle School. The school principals gave overviews of student performance, areas of success, and strategies to support school improvement. From Crockett MS, the February benchmark results showed Crockett exceeding ECISD averages in 6th English Language Arts/Reading, 7th Math and 8th Math. In addition, students’ observed growth in all grades exceeded their projected growth in middle-of-year MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing for math and ELAR, and surpassed the national mean in all areas except 6th grade math. Acknowledging they still have work to do, Crockett will continue to prioritize maintaining a safe and orderly learning environment for all students, maximizing instructional time, and providing frequent feedback and support for teachers. Wilson & Young MS saw students fall short of projected MAP growth in ELAR and math, however, in terms of meeting grade level proficiency, W&Y surpassed ECISD averages in the areas measured. Wilson & Young MS will expand its use of Opportunity Culture for 7th grade ELAR as well as its use of Blended Learning and other strategic activities as mentioned in Item B (above.)

 

D. Trustees heard a report from the Technology Department. The pandemic forced many aspects of ECISD’s technology plan to be accelerated. In regard to safety and connectivity, the District operates 1,802 security cameras; 2,873 internet access points; and recently completed installation of 81.13 miles of fiber optics. Taking advantage of one-time funding made available due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ECISD spent about $3.7 million on student devices (37,000 Chromebooks and iPads), and just more than $2.6 million on internet connectivity. The I.T. Department has created a sustainability plan that will replace ¼ of student devices each year. The Information Systems side of I.T. provides data access to nearly 35,000 employees and students. New data storage operations make sharing that data easier and more efficient. ECISD is in the process of moving to a new student information system called Ascender; it is planned to go live in July. Instructional Technology – also known as the Techy Tribe – builds the digital capacity of ECISD staff by providing professional learning (virtual, face-to-face, personalized) and resources. The District is in the midst of rolling out a Learning Management System (LMS) to simplify the organization of digital learning and communication with parents and families. “Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” – George Couros NOTE: You will find all of the presentations on our ECISD Board of Trustees web page - https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Agenda/1406?meeting=454528

 

E. In his legislative update, Dr. Muri told Trustees they will continue to watch the development of discussions about ESSER II and ESSER III federal funds that are designated for public education but have yet to be released to Texas districts.  

 

  1. There was no closed session.

 

  1. There were no closing remarks.  

  

  1. The meeting adjourned at 9:38 p.m.