Despite not having vote, Midland County takes center stage in ECISD Bond

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:54 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - When it comes to the issue of taxes and Saturday’s Ector County ISD bond vote, one of the major points of contention is, perhaps surprisingly, Midland County.

That’s because a section of Odessa lies inside Midland County.

The combination has caused rumors to swirl about the meaning of the bond, such as the new high school would be overrun with Midland County students and a lack of property taxes paid by those students’ families.

“I think people want something that’s not backed up to Midland County,” said Ector County Commissioner Mike Gardner.

It’s easy to get confused when you have signs for Midland County elections next to Ector County schools.

And for some Ector County residents, the problem is bigger than the signs.

“My problem is where it’s being built,” said Jamie Foreman, manager of Odessa’s Accountability Project. “It’s being built on the Midland County line.”

Like many others, Foreman said she worries the proposed high school will bring in more Midland County residents from growing areas of Odessa and cater to its tax base.

Much of the consternation surrounds the Parks Bell Ranch area where the proposed new high school would be built. The area borders the midland county line.

But Parks Bell Ranch isn’t currently in Midland County, but subdivisions like Mission Estates off Faudree and Dorado are.

“What we have is all those students out there going to school in the Ector County Independent School District, and Midland is receiving all the school taxes,” Foreman said.

This is where it gets confusing.

“If you come from anywhere to go to OHS or Permian, your money would follow you,” says Odessans for Education Co-Chair Lorraine Perryman.

This means if you live in Midland County, your kids go to Midland County schools. If you live in Ector County, your kids go to Ector County schools.

Students can choose to go to school outside their district, but there’s a tax catch.

That student’s family still pays property taxes in Midland County. Still, when the county sends those taxes to the State of Texas, the state redistributes the education money to each school district in the state based on its student population. This means Ector County still gets that money. It also applies to Ector County students attending school in Midland County.

Still, there’s the worry that Midland County kids will want to be part of all the shiny new Ector County Bells and whistles, pushing Ector County residents out.

“A student can not come to ECISD unless we have a vacancy,” ECISD Superintendent Dr. Sott Muri told a group of Odessans on April 26.

Dr. Muri says vacancies are more common at the less crowded elementary and middle school levels.

With the outcry, the actual numbers tell a different story.

The ECISD says there are currently about 150 students from Midland County in its school system out of about 32,000 students, equating to just under 0.5% of the student population.

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