ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar)- Wrapping up six months of study, the Community Bond Committee gave Ector County ISD Trustees its final report and recommendations during Tuesday night’s school board meeting. 

The committee’s charge included three specific actions:

  • Review the Facilities Assessment Study regarding physical condition and other assessments of all current facilities.
  • Consider options for existing, renovated and/or new facilities; implications of projected enrollment; anticipated instructional programs; technology; operations; and cost.
  • Develop and present to the Board of Trustees a facilities and recommendations for a future bond election will serve the District as a baseline for the next five years.

Over six months, the committee held eight meetings, two community meetings, and two deep-dive work sessions. The committee’s guiding principles were to assess the academic needs of students as well as the physical conditions of existing school buildings. The committee was asked to consider the age of the buildings, building capacity, and anticipated future needs.

According to a release from ECISD of the district’s 60 facilities, more than half (31) are more than 60 years old. A demographic study projects growth in the coming years with ECISD potentially topping 35,700 students by 2028.  The Facility Assessment Study evaluated all needs (mechanical, electrical, plumbing and more) of every building in ECISD. 

The study scaled the needs as Priority 1 (needs to be addressed in 1-2 years), Priority 2 (should be addressed in the next 3-5 years), Priority 3 (6-10 years), and Priority 4 (11 or more years out).The study identified more than $175 million in needed repairs and said these repairs would need to be made in the next one to five years. 

The committee also heard presentations from ECISD department leaders and considered those needs as well. Departments like athletics, fine arts, career and technical education, technology, transportation, and others. Architectural firm PBK, the company that performed the Facilities Assessment Study, led the committee through a study of current costs for school construction including standard student enrollment and acreage guidelines.

The committee also gave considerable attention to a community survey, conducted by the District, that polled 1,000 Ector County voters on a variety of school district topics, potential bond projects, and the tax implication of several different bond amounts.

At the conclusion of its current work, the Community Bond Committee recommended that Trustees prioritize: Priority 1 and Priority 2 repairs and maintenance needs for all schools; future growth and campus safety by building a new comprehensive high school; expand job training and career education with a state-of-the-art Career & Technical Education Center; and replace and improve technology across the District. 

During the meeting, Trustees asked why the committee did not recommend new elementary schools or new middle schools at this time.

The committee said they listened to the survey responses, as to what the community would support, and the committee stuck to its guiding principles and the concept of “worst, first.” They felt the greatest needs were in the high schools where there is no room for growth or expansion of Odessa High School and Permian High School. They said they must alleviate that over-crowding by building a new high school. The facility review indicates there is some under-utilization of middle school and elementary school areas at this moment, though they added it will need to be addressed in the not-to-distant future.

Based on survey feedback, the committee recommends the Board should review these recommendations and build a bond proposal that will be less than $400 million dollars, and Trustees should look to hold a bond election on May 7, 2022.