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School board workshop highlights safety/security measures and good news about teacher vacancies

The Ector County ISD Board of Trustees held its August workshop on the 9th. A recap of the agenda is below.

 

  1. Roll Call. Delma Abalos was absent.

 

  1. Verification of Compliance with Open Meeting Law.

 

  1. New Trustee Dennis Jones took his Oath of Office. In June, the school board appointed Jones to fill the vacant seat in Position 7. Over the past 17 years Jones, a private practice attorney, worked as a prosecutor and a judge and was actively involved in the City’s truancy program. He also has previous teaching experience at Angelina College and Odessa College. The Honorable Judge Brooke Hendricks administered the oath of office.   

Dennis Jones with right hand raised repeating the oath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. In his opening remarks, Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri talked about the first day of school. He reminded Trustees that a lesson from the pandemic is the idea of phasing-in students on different dates. Today, Prekindergarten through 6th grade and 9th grade started, and the others – 7th, 8th, 10th, 11th, and 12th – will return on Thursday. This plan allows 6th graders and 9th graders to be on campus by themselves for two days to acclimate to the new, larger campus. Dr. Muri told Trustees it appears to be a large class in PreK and he added that’s a good thing because it establishes a very good foundation for our students.      

 

  1. There was no public comment.  

 

  1. Board Policy – Trustees discussed Local Policy Update 119 from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). TASB routinely recommends updates to school districts’ local policies in order to keep them in alignment with changes in the law. You can see the recommendations online as part of the agenda packet: https://meetings.boardbook.org/Public/Agenda/1406?meeting=540331

 

  1. Report/Discussion Items

 

  1. Trustees received an update on safety/security measures in place for ECISD schools and administrative offices. A summary of the ways Ector County ISD works to keep students, staff and visitors safe:
  • ECISD police department, 29 fully licensed peace officers
  • 4 K-9 units, 2 trained in drug detection and 2 trained in weapons detection
  • Officers assigned to all middle schools and high schools – 4 officers at each Permian HS and Odessa HS, plus additional security guard in parking lots
  • ECISD officers and other law enforcement agencies coordinate daily drive-by and walk-through patrols at elementary schools
  • Controlled access entrances at every school (funding from voter-approved Tax Ratification Election in 2018)
  • Visitors must check in and wear visitor badge at all times
  • All Staff must wear IDs at all times
  • 1,500 video cameras across the district, monitored by police
  • Nearly 1,000 portable radios connecting campus leaders to multiple area law enforcement agencies
  • Door barricades in every classroom and school office as safety defense in a lockdown
  • Alarm system that is set overnight and on weekends to detect unauthorized entry
  • ECISD uses state-approved Standard Response Protocol (SRP) to train all staff and students for Lockdown, Secure, Shelter and Evacuation incidents. See more here https://txssc.txstate.edu/videos/srp/.
  • See Something, Say Something – ECISD has a highly effective and successful Student Crime Stoppers program
  • ECISD has an Emergency Management Team and school Threat Management Teams
  • All officers trained in Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response (ALERRT), the training from the Texas School Safety Center for active shooter response
  • ECISD officers provide local training in active shooter response for other agencies
  • Coordinated plans among ECISD, Odessa Police Department, Ector County Sheriff’s Office, DPS, UTBP, Odessa College, and Medical Center Health System police departments.
  • New measures: Completed state-required safety audit to ensure all exterior doors are locked & working properly; all classroom doors will remain locked all day, every day; and ECISD police officers will conduct WEEKLY safety checks of fencing and exterior doors at all schools

This information can also be found on the ECISD website under the Parents & Students tab at the top of the home page.  

 

  1. Trustees heard the quarterly update on three elements of the district’s strategic plan. First was an update on talent pipelines being developed. Simply put, a pipeline is a proactive approach to filling future vacancies, particularly for high-skilled, hard-to-staff positions. ECISD has created 4 teacher pipelines with about 130 teachers who have completed or are currently in those pipelines plus another 90 high school students in Future Teachers of Odessa track. In addition, 29 future principals are being trained for campus leadership through three separate pipelines, and partnerships have been formed with three universities to develop counselors and diagnosticians. Second, was an update on high-impact tutoring. Principals chose three virtual tutoring companies to serve students by providing 1-to-1 attention in Reading and Math to help students recover the learning lost due to COVID. Students working with these virtual tutors showed tremendous growth during the year through what amounted to 84,000 hours of additional academic support (that did not fall on the school’s teachers). A substantial investment of about $6 million in federal ESSER funds, the tutoring companies selected worked through outcomes-based contracts in which they earned more money if the students achieved higher results. Third, was the Smart Badge initiative which would use radio frequency ID badges to enhance safety, security and efficiency for students. Bus riders at five schools will pilot these Smart Badges this year as they scan getting on and getting off of the bus. Smart Badges can also be used for library books and at lunch, among other uses.

 

  1. Trustees saw a presentation on bullying reporting, the investigation process, and supports offered at schools. This presentation used a fictitious family walking through the process of how bullying is defined, how it is reported and then investigated, and prevention efforts that include school counselors providing support resources for all of those involved. This support can include guidance lessons, conflict resolution, and referrals to outside agencies. In the 2021-22 school year, 238 allegations of bullying were reported. Upon investigation, the majority of those resulted in Code of Conduct violations and appropriate disciplinary action; 37 of them were substantiated and confirmed as cases of bullying. Again, appropriate disciplinary action was taken and counseling supports put in place as needed. New this year, all school staff are being trained in bullying recognition response through SafeSchools. Find more information about bullying and reporting it on our ECISD website.

 

  1. ECISD’s Human Capital Department gave Trustees a look at ways the district is investing in employees in order to recruit talent and encourage them to reach their full potential. Much of the department’s work over the last two years has been focused on addressing a shortage of teachers. That has been done through recruiting efforts, creation of teacher certification pipeline programs, strategic staffing, increased pay for teachers, and opportunities to earn additional compensation through efforts like Opportunity Culture and Teacher Incentive Allotment. At the start of the 2019-20 school year ECISD faced 351 teacher vacancies; currently, there are 58 (29 elementary, 29 secondary) teacher vacancies in ECISD. More than 400 teachers have been hired for this school year.

 

  1. There was no closed session.

 

  1. There were no closing remarks.   

  

  1. The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.