West Odessans air frustrations with proposed high school location

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 8:07 AM CDT
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WEST ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Close to two dozen people showed up at a town hall Wednesday night at Kellus Turner Park.

“Man, we’re just tired of being the fire hydrant,” ECISD Commissioner Mike Gardner said.

A presentation from Ector County Superintendent Scott Muri amounted to a de facto ECISD “State of the Union.” Muri laid out the costs associated with aging schools, addressed the district’s credit rating, and walked people through the nearly two-year process of setting up the bond proposal.

But attendees grew increasingly frustrated with what they feel is a slap in the face.

“My kids matter,” one ECISD mother said. “And you’re saying that by building it over there, these babies don’t matter.”

The crux of the disapproval has to do with the location of the new high school, which is slated to be built near the Midland County line in the rapidly growing Parks Bell Ranch area.

It couldn’t get much further from West Odessa.

Muri patiently answered questions, many of them not questions but rather accusations of favoritism towards wealthier portions of the county; however, Muri said the ISD was constrained by the limit which voters said they would go to build new schools, adding many people on the bond committee wanted a $600 million bond to build a second high school in West Odessa. In a survey, residents rejected spending that much on a bond.

But Muri’s technical answers couldn’t match the emotions of many people in attendance.

“You’re trying to overwhelm us with facts and information! You’re trying to overwhelm us with a bunch of charts,” one attendee yelled. “I’m not buying it!”

Another concern for residents is the continued bussing of West Odessa children to other parts of the county.

“Do you think it’s ok for our kids to get up at six o’clock in the morning, get on the bus at 6:30, have to go an hour here or an hour there, and then get home at six or seven o’clock at night? That’s ok for our kids to do that?”

Most in attendance agreed that a new high school is necessary but want it built in West or Central Odessa rather than East Odessa.

Attendees were also concerned about the tax increase with bond approval, saying it hits West Odessans harder but benefits them less.

The bond vote is scheduled for Saturday, May 7.

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