Dennis Jones appointed to ECISD board

·5 min read

Jun. 22—Odessan Dennis Jones was appointed to the District 7 ECISD board spot during Tuesday's board meeting and will be sworn in in August.

Superintendent Scott Muri said while he takes the oath of office in August, July will be spent orienting him for the panel. He will replace Nelson Minyard, who resigned in January.

Jones has lived and worked in Odessa for 17 years as a prosecutor, judge and now a private practice lawyer. While working as a municipal judge for the City of Odessa he was actively involved in the truancy program for 13 years. He also has previous teaching experience at Angelina College and Odessa College, the recap said.

Board member Carol Gregg said the selection of a board member was very difficult. The board met during a special meeting Monday to deliberate candidates.

She added that they were excited that so many people were interested and the candidates were very good.

Along with Jones, candidates included Randy Adams, James Drexler, Toni Hardesty, Travis Overton, John Rabenaldt, David Sovil and Robert Thayer.

"I'm very honored to even be considered, more honored to get the appointment," Jones said after the meeting. "I look forward to working on behalf of our students to increase our accountability, to increase our grades, to get us up to where we need to be and I look forward to working with the board and the superintendent to attain those goals."

In other business, the Ector County ISD Board of Trustees adopted a general fund budget of $338,720,000 for 2022-23 during their meeting Tuesday.

Last year, the budget was $325,511,770.

The total tax rate is anticipated to remain the same at $1.17792 per $100 valuation. The tax rate won't be adopted until September, Chief Financial Officer Deborah Ottmers said.

No one attended to give public comment.

A school board in Texas is legally required to approve three separate budgets: the general fund budget which is projected to be $338,720,000; the debt service budget projected at $27,547,576; and the School Nutrition budget at $18,115,065. All are balanced budgets, the board recap said.

Highlights of the general fund budget come from the 2022-23 Compensation Plan which Trustees approved last month:

— Starting teacher salary raised to $58,750. In 2017-18, ECISD's starting teacher salary was $44,500, the recap said.

— Everyone on the teacher pay scale will get a minimum increase of $2,000.

— 4% general pay increase at midpoint for hourly employees (campus-based and central office).

— 3% (of midpoint) pay increase for all professional employees (campus-based and central office).

— Raise minimum wage to $15/hour (this is up from $10/hour two years ago).

— The pay increases come at a cost of approximately $9.3 million to the district's budge, the recap said.

During the discussion it was noted, the two largest expenditures, by function, are instruction, which is 60% of the general fund budget and maintenance and operations, which is 10% of the general fund budget.

The projected number of students is 33,500. They are served in 44 schools.

The board also approved William Iker for principal of Jordan Elementary School. He has been an assistant principal at Bonham and Wilson & Young Medal of Honor Middle School previously, Chief Communications Officer Mike Adkins said.

The recap said he taught for five years at Ector Middle School where he was also the athletic coordinator. In addition to his education background, he has 20 years of military experience in the United States Army.

Trustees also approved an application amendment to an agreement for limitation on appraised value between the district and 1PointFive P1, LLC.

"The basic premise of it is we approved this application last year. This is the same company that is trying to get six more applications through and part of the properties overlapped. This amendment is just fixing it so the properties all have their own separate boundaries," Ottmers said.

Trustees received a report on STAAR and End of Course exam results.

Superintendent Scott Muri presented a look at grade level results compared to last year's scores. In third, fourth and fifth grade, math scores improved in 8 of 9 areas.

Each grade level is measured in three ways: Approaches, Meets and Masters, with a high of a 10-point increase. In third, fourth and fifth grade Reading Language Arts (RLA) improved in all 9 areas, a couple of them by as much as 17 and 18 points, the recap said.

Fifth-grade and eighth grade science increased in all measures. Sixth, seventh and eighth grade math saw double-digit gains in many areas and as much as a 16-point increase with 8 of 9 increasing. Middle school Reading Language Arts went up in all nine areas with solid gains of 14 and 16 points. Overall, middle school results were strong, the presentation detailed.

Eighth-grade social studies decreased by a couple of points. Several high school scores did not show the same growth — English I was down two points, English II down one point and US History showed the same results. However, Algebra I and Biology increased in all three measures.

Muri closed the presentation with a slide showing that scores for middle school Reading Language Arts have recovered, and even surpassed, the results shown in 2019 before the pandemic began. He told trustees he is exceptionally proud of the district's 4,200 employees who made this improvement happen. He said teachers and principals are exhausted from their efforts, and he called the students "resilient."

He did not have state results to compare ECISD results to.

In other business:

— The board voted 5-0 to approve a resolution to calculate the property tax rates. This is a new state requirement for a school district to name a position to work directly with the local appraisal district on calculation of property taxes. As has been the practice, that position is the chief financial officer.

— Trustees voted 5-0 to approve purchases over $50,000. The list this month included roof removal and replacement for Odessa High School, professional development services targeted to leadership development, virtual speech therapy for approximately 400 qualifying students, insurance coverage through the TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) Risk Fund, College Career and Military Readiness supports, and technology infrastructure and systems projects.