ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Ector County ISD announced on Thursday that the school district has received notice of a three-year, $8.99 million federal grant, which aims to create a new human capital investment to develop and reward teachers, principals, and campus leadership teams who improve student performance in math and English language arts/ reading.

The grant is from the Teacher and School Leader Incentive Program through the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education. The school district says this adds another tactic to ECISD’s highly effective Human Capital strategy.

“This is a very competitive, federal grant,” said ECISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri. “Only 29 educational entities in United States earned one of these awards.

“We pursued this opportunity because it fits our human capital philosophy of recruiting, retaining, and rewarding excellence among our team members. This grant enables us to accelerate that strategy, and means ECISD will be among the highest paying districts in the United States when it comes to the most effective principals and teachers.” he said.

ECISD calls this initiative “LEAP,” or Leadership for Ector’s Accelerated Performance, which will initially focus on 10 schools that have a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students. ECISD says these schools serve 9,739 students with 556 teachers and 10 principals.

The school district says LEAP provides professional development opportunities designed to sharpen the skills of teachers to be effective instructors, and to strengthen the school’s instructional leadership teams. LEAP aims to align incentive pay to instructional priorities through performance-based compensation, which rewards educators who improves their instructional practice and increases student growth in English, language arts, and math. It also rewards educators and principals who take on positions at high-need schools that serve a diverse student population.

“LEAP builds on our existing strategic compensation and staffing,” said ECISD Executive Director of Human Resources Dr. Matthew Spivy. “Our most effective teachers could earn an additional $15,000 annually, and our most effective principals up to $30,000 in additional compensation. And it serves high-need schools across our district.”

The initiative has support from the Odessa Chamber of Commerce who recognizes the importance of effective recruitment, development, and retention strategies for the educational workforce. Additionally, the district says LEAP builds on partnerships with six colleges and universities in the area: The University of Texas Permian Basin, Odessa College, University of Texas El Paso, Texas Tech University, Sul Ross State University, and Angelo State University. ECISD says these partnerships support the recruitment and development of a diverse, well-prepared teacher workforce for years to come.

“The Permian Strategic Partnership is a proud partner of ECISD,” said Tracee Bentley, President/CEO of the Permian Strategic Partnership. “We have supported previous district efforts to improve teacher and principal effectiveness. We are delighted these human capital investments have been successful and are leading to more opportunities for the district. This is the exact kind of model the PSP looks for when looking to make investments.”

ECISD says they are already experienced in implementing and sustaining similar Human Capital tactics like Teacher Incentive Allotment, Opportunity Culture, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification, Odessa Pathway to Teaching, Paid Teacher Residency program, Registered Apprenticeship for Teachers, Para to Teacher, Future Teachers of Odessa, Principal Incentive Allotment, Principal Fellow programs with Texas Tech and UTPB, Holdsworth Leadership training, Aspiring Principal Academy, and college prep pathway programs for counselors, speech pathologists, and diagnosticians.

Schools included in this initial rollout include:

  • Odessa High School
  • Bowie Middle School
  • Bonham Elementary School
  • Blackshear Elementary
  • Dowling Elementary
  • Downing Elementary
  • Goliad Elementary
  • Sam Houston Elementary
  • San Jacinto Elementary
  • West Elementary

“This is good news for our staff members and great news for our students,” said Odessa High School principal Anthony Garcia. “As we improve, our kids have more access to great teachers and great schools. Kids win and our community wins.”

“We know that investing in teachers and leaders is the right thing to do,” added Dr. Muri. “Research is very clear. The #1factor that increases student achievement is the teacher. And the #2 factor is the leader.”