Special Report: Local leaders coming together to make a brighter future for ECISD

ECTOR CO. -- This week community leaders launched a Political Action Committee called "4 Kids’ Future."

Their goal is to educate the public about the bond proposal in Ector County ISD.

Business leader Collin Sewell, PAC Chairman Dr. Adrian Vega and Superintendent Tom Crowe come to the table, ready to answer questions about a $291 million proposal.

Collin says, “we’re asking people to make a decision today. Make an investment today, not for themselves. Not for their own children. But for the future generations of the community.”

They all agree, the most critical issue, massive overcrowding.
Right now, both Permian and Odessa High Schools have almost 4,000 students, and that number continues to rise.

Dr. Adrian Vega says, “the projections are, conservatively, with in the next 5 years the district was supposed to be at 32,000 students. We’re already there. Within the next 10 years, that number could be up to 40,000 students.”

If the bond passes, every campus will receive some type of upgrades.
Vega says, “when you think about the vast majority of schools in the district being 40, 50 60 years old. Air conditioners wear out. Roofs wear out. Windows need changing. So when you think about “life cycle” projects for every campus, that’s’ what we’re talking about.”

The bond also allows for a district-wide fiber network, to improve unreliable and outdated technology infrastructure.

Collin says, “one of the things we have to do is make sure we equip students with the ability to learn with an electronic device – whether it’s a tablet, a chrome book or a phone to access data on-line.”

In addition to the bond issues, voters will also decide on what’s called a “tax ratification election.”

Collin says, “we really have one vote we need people to vote for to say yes to building facilities. We need the second vote to allow funding for those facilities and bring staff into those facilities.”

In short, the TRE allows the district to raise its tax rate for the first time in nine years.

Adrian says, “80% of the districts across Texas, out of 1,100 school districts, have a higher tax rate than we do.”

And they say with continued cuts in state funding, the additional money will make a huge difference.

Crowe says, “out of the budget this year, we cut $20-million. And that’s not fluff. That’s supplies and materials.”

Collin says, “the TRE would provide a 2% increase to all district staff in the form of an annual salary increase.”

While Superintendent Crowe cannot advocate for the bond issue, he says the burden of having too many kids at any campus impacts student performance and contributes to the growing number of teachers who are exiting the profession they once loved.

Crowe says, “I think we’ll be able to recruit teachers much better. Come work for us and you’ll only have 44 kids in a classroom, or come work for us you’ll only have 20.”

Collin says, “I think we’ve finally reached a point where there’s absolutely nothing else we can do other than decide we want campuses that are smaller so kids have better opportunities.