ECISD opposes bill to change school year start

Odessa American, Texas
·4 min read

Apr. 8—A bill in the state house of representatives would require a uniform start and end time for districts statewide and it's something that Ector County ISD Superintendent Scott Muri is against.

Muri said House Bill 3846 would require school districts to begin after Labor Day, which is in September, and finish before Memorial Day weekend.

The bill has been proposed previously.

"We are adamantly opposed to that bill," Muri said. "That particular bill would significantly change our master calendar for the next many years."

He co-authored a letter to the legislature earlier this week in opposition.

Currently, ECISD starts in early August and the district has added 30 additional days for elementary students during the summer.

"All of that would go away. Right now, we have two weeks of holiday break during the Christmas season. We have the week of holiday break during Thanksgiving and we would significantly have to shorten those breaks to make sure that our kids received enough learning. We see that idea as being really detrimental to the learning of our children," Muri said.

"A great body of research talks specifically about the summer slide. That's the learning loss that occurs during the summer months that students are out of school. The longer those summer months are, the more learning loss will occur with our students and we need to do everything we can to shorten the amount of time students have to create those gaps in their learning," Muri added.

While educators don't want students at school five days a week, 365 days a year, they know that those long summer breaks create challenges for many students, he added.

On a separate item, on April 6, students across Texas at the elementary school level and high school level were involved in STAAR testing.

"Unfortunately, the day did not go as the state had planned," Muri said. "In fact, students across the state, including ECISD, were unable to even begin their testing program due to technical difficulties by the testing provider."

"It was not a good day for testing in our state; not a good day for our students and teachers that really spent a lot of time, energy and effort getting ready for that opportunity to showcase their learning," he added. "We will continue the testing process later this week. The state still has more tests of STAAR and EOC (end of course) ... that they'll administer starting, in fact, Thursday and then we'll reschedule the tests that were missed yesterday. We'll schedule (those) ... for the week of April the 12th."

Muri said the technical issue was caused by the testing provider.

He added that it was not right and not good for teachers.

"We hope that will improve. Our students and teachers certainly deserve excellence when it comes to creating that testing environment and that didn't happen for our kids yesterday and our kids deserve better," Muri said. "Working with the Texas Education Agency, it is our hope and our goal that our kids will have a better experience in the days and weeks to come."

This coming Friday is the final opportunity for children and families to change the way they are learning.

"Moms and dads whose kids are currently in a virtual environment and who would like to transition need to let us know by Friday of this week (April 9) and make the transition in two weeks," Muri said.

Currently, he said, 29 percent of ECISD families still have their children at home being educated in a virtual environment.

Muri renewed his plea to state lawmakers that federal CARES money flow to school districts so unfinished learning brought on by the pandemic can be addressed.

"Right now, that money is tied up in state of Texas. We are encouraging our state legislators to really analyze those federal dollars and make sure that money is sent to us as quickly as possible so that we can begin to create plans to address the unfinished learning of our students," Muri said.

"Our local economist, Dr. Ray Perryman, has recently published a piece that speaks directly to that. We all know that a quality education positively affects the economy of our state, and if our students continue to struggle it will have long-term impacts, not only on their education but ultimately on the economy of our state. I'd encourage everyone to read Dr. Perryman's recent article that speaks to these federal dollars (and) the importance of having those dollars reach the schools as quickly as possible," he added.