The facts about the2012 school bond proposal
On August 16, 2012, members of the Ector County Independent School Board unanimously called for a $129.75 million bond election to be added to the November 6 ballot for voters. This bond, which directly addresses the need for an increase in classrooms to meet Odessa’s growing population, calls for the addition of three new elementary schools (two in West Odessa and one in north/northeast Odessa), and the expansion of both Odessa and Permian High schools to accommodate a district-wide move to the middle school concept, the model currently used in the vast majority of school districts throughout Texas.
The middle school concept, which would replace the current junior high model in the district, would place sixth graders in middle schools with seventh and eight grade students, and move ninth grade students to the Permian or Odessa High campuses with 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students. This new middle school alignment would result in elementary schools being kindergarten through 5th grade, middle schools being 6th through 8th grade, and high schools being ninth through 12th grades. This shift in grades would finally align our school district with the state curriculum and place students with age-appropriate peer groups.
Odessans For Kids, a non-profit community group of business leaders, parents, and civic leaders is asking you to VOTE "FOR" this bond so that we can prepare for Odessa’s future. This is our opportunity to "pay it forward" for our children and grandchildren, and help ensure that future generations of Odessa students receive the quality education they deserve, much like our ancestors did for us many years ago.
With Odessa’s current economic and population explosion, NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION. When we invest in our children we are investing in our future.
By passing the school bond on November 6, the Ector County Independent School District will:
- Enhance our students’ education by moving to the middle school concept.
- Build three new elementary schools where they are needed the most.
- Alleviate current overcrowding of our existing elementary schools.
- Strengthen the "neighborhood school" concept in Odessa.
- Keep our current 5-A status by expanding the campuses at two of our three high schools.
- Reduce transportation costs by busing fewer students throughout Odessa.
- Reach our goal: To be a school district where students love to learn and teachers love to teach.
This school bond election has earned the endorsement of:
- Odessa Chamber of Commerce
- Odessa’s Education Foundation
- Una Voz Unida
Consider the Facts
1. A Growing Economy
Odessa’s strong economy has resulted in incredible growth. Over the last two years, ECISD has grown by over 1,300 students, (with more students continuing to enroll), adding even more strain on our existing school facilities.
2. Balance The Student Population
The new elementary schools would balance student population throughout the county and move us towards the "neighborhood school" concept. If you believe that students should be able to attend their neighborhood schools, then this bond election makes good sense.
3. Reduce Transportation Costs
The new elementary schools will be where the children are geographically, reducing transportation costs for the district. Many pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are spending 3 to 4 hours each day riding the bus to and from school. No child should have to endure this unbearable situation.
4. Align Our School Grade Levels With The Rest of Texas
ECISD is one of only two 5-A school districts in Texas still using the older junior high model (7 - 9 grades). By moving to the middle school concept (the standard for 95% of 5-A districts in Texas,) we will finally align our school grade levels to the current Texas Education Agency model for assessing academic success. (K - 5, 6 - 8, and 9 - 12 grades.)
5. Research Supports the Middle School Concept
Recent focus group research shows that educators, students, parents and community leaders support the middle-school concept because it places students with age appropriate peers, aligns fully with state academic assessments, and provides more opportunities for students to succeed in fine arts, academics and athletics.
6. Odessans Age 65 And Older Will See No Change In Their Tax Rate.
Odessans age 65 and older will see no change in their tax rate. Their school property taxes on an individual homestead are frozen at the current rate.
7. Homes Appraised At $100,000 Would See Annual Increase Of Only $37.70
A home with an appraised value of $100,000 would see an annual increase of only $37.70, or $3.14 per month with the passage of this school bond (less than the cost of one small bag of popcorn at the movies.)
8. We Can Cost-Effectively Provide Schools For the Future
With interest rates at an almost historic low, we can cost-effectively provide the schools we need for the future. Considering low interest rates and the district’s positive bond rating and overall tax rate, ECISD has been a good steward of our tax dollars and earned this positive position for growth.
9. Expanding Current Campuses Is Less Expensive Than Building A New High School
By expanding both the Permian and Odessa High campuses to accommodate 9th graders, we will honor the tradition of both schools. Expansion of both campuses comes at far less expense than building a new high school and the operational costs associated with a fourth high school. (New high school construction cost is estimated at $90 million, with an additional $9 million in operating expenses each year.)
10. Total Tax Rate Will Still Be Lower Than The Lubbock ISD And The San Angelo ISD
Our school district’s total tax rate has declined 24% over the last 7 years. With the projected tax rate increase of 5.8 cents for this school bond, our total tax rate will still be lower than both the Lubbock and San Angelo ISD tax rates.
This proposed bond is a responsible, financially sound approach to making sure that our children will receive the quality education they deserve. Vote FOR Odessa’s children on November 6 so that we can be a place where students love to learn and teachers love to teach. And don’t forget: if you vote a straight party ticket you will need to go to the back of the ballot to vote your support for this school bond.
Student Distribution At Odessa Elementary Schools
How much will this bond election cost me?
Tax Increase based on Appraisal Values
Tax Increase based on Taxable Values
Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding expanding both Odessa and Permian High Schools to accommodate ninth graders to their campuses:
Why not add a 3rd high school in Odessa, instead of "super-sizing" the ones we currently have?
One important factor in considering whether to build a new fourth high school (since New Tech Odessa is our third high school in Odessa) is money. It is extremely expensive to build a whole new campus (approximately $90 million versus $72.6 million to add additional classroom space at both Odessa and Permian High schools to accommodate ninth graders).
More importantly, adding a fourth high school would also require additional operational costs of about $9 - $10 million each and every year that it operates, an expense that greatly stresses an already challenged district budget. It is fiscally more responsible to expand both Permian and Odessa High Schools to allow for the District to move to the middle school concept.
Adding a fourth high school could also result in one or more our of existing high schools dropping from 5A to 4A status. For many Odessans, a bond issue that might result in a different state classification is unacceptable. We’ve tried it before and it failed. All state-wide competitions, whether athletic, academic or related to the arts would be affected by this major change.
Keep in mind, our 3rd high school (New Tech Odessa) is a highly successful, academically-focused school. However, it is not capacity, indicating that many Odessans do care about athletics and other extra curricular activities.
In addition, redrawing boundary lines to accommodate three "traditional" high schools requires massive changes and would affect almost every high school student in Odessa. We feel this issue is divisive enough to kill any effort to make the much needed shift toward middle schools, to ease over-crowding in elementary schools, and to support 9th graders. Whether this change in district status should occur or not, the current ECISD Board of Trustees and the District Administration believe that it is important to respect the traditions of our two largest high schools as we move our district into the future.- read more -
But wouldn’t more high schools mean smaller class sizes and an overall better quality of education for our students?
Not necessarily. In education, a low teacher/student ratio does not always mean that the quality of the educational experience is enhanced. The most important factors in delivering the high quality of education our students deserve in Odessa is the stringency of the curriculum and the calibre of teachers. Both of these issues, which were also highlighted as leading to student success by recent research conducted by the Gates Foundation, are important elements in the ECISD’s Strategic Plan, and gains have been made in both areas in recent years. In fact, our tests scores have shown marked improvement as a result of addressing these two issues.
Many of the largest high schools in Texas have some of the highest test scores and lowest drop-out rates in the state. Allen High School in southeast Texas has an attendance of over 5,000 students and continues to be a leader in test scores statewide. That is the goal of ECISD, and the passage of this bond coupled with the advancements made academically in the last two years will help us achieve it.- read more -
But how can the district manage and protect so many students on a high school campus?
District administrators, parents, booster clubs, and high school principals at both OHS and PHS are engaged in discussions to come up with the best possible plans to ensure the safety and well-being for all students. Issues under discussion include sufficient student parking, added cafeteria space, and adequate square footage to meet the needs of large groups including band, choir, orchestra, and more. Working with community input, architectural designers, educators and security experts, ECISD will develop plans for both Permian and Odessa High that will result in maximum student management and safety at these expanded institutions.- read more -
Regarding the change to the middle school concept:
Why the middle school concept, and why now?
The vast majority of Texas school districts currently utilize a middle school or middle school-type configuration. In fact, Odessa is one of only two 5-A districts that still utilize the "junior high" model of seventh through ninth grades. Having ninth graders on the same campus with 10th - 12 graders makes sense, since ninth grade is where a student’s academic achievement begins to become part of their record towards high school graduation and, if they choose, pursuing higher education.
Currently there are many ninth grade students who are being transported daily to the high school campuses to participate in athletics and academic activities, so it makes good sense to move this grade level to both Permian and Odessa High Schools. Ninth grade students are physically and socially more compatible with 10th grade students than with seventh grade students. And ninth grade students on the high school campuses will give those students more opportunities for academic and athletic success in their high school years.- read more -
REGARDING THE NEED TO ADD THREE NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS:
Plans call for two new elementary schools in West Odessa and one in the north/northeast section of Odessa. Why there?
As depicted on the elementary-student-to-school ratio illustrations above, the dynamic growth of elementary students in Odessa during the last five years has been away from the center of our city and into these two geographic zones. Building these elementary school in the areas described above puts the new schools where they are needed most - the areas with the most children. It only makes good sense. If you believe in the "neighborhood school" concept then this school bond election is for you.- read more -
Why is it important for us to have "neighborhood schools"?
Having "neighborhood schools" means that fewer elementary school children will have to be bused long distances to attend school. Currently, there are many pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age children who are riding a school bus from 3 to 4 hours each day! No child in Odessa deserves this. We can do better as a city and as a school system.
And as we move closer to a "neighborhood school" model, transportation costs will drop because there will be shorter bus routes that more cost-efficiently address our students transportation needs.- read more -