Ector County Independent School District is still short 257 teachers.
With a big shortage the district is giving virtual staffing a trial run through Proximity Learning.
The board voted to start on a small scale, just four classes of American Sign Language Level 2. Two classes at Permian High School and two classes at Odessa High School.
The classes should be up and running in two weeks. During that time the board will observe, learn and evaluate the program first hand then decide it its a fit for the district.
In an ideal situation, this means students will be taught one on one with a laptop and headphones. Giving the students a face to face interaction and the ability to talk to the teacher.
However ECISD doesn’t have laptops for everyone, which is a main concern.
“We want to do whats best for the tax payers but number one we want to do whats best for the kids and we are looking at all of our options,” said Doyle Woodall, ECISD Board President.
“I do have a real problem with virtual teaching, I understand that we have to think outside the box because we are in Odessa, Texas and we are having trouble filling spots,” said Delma Abalos, ECISD Board Member.
In a 5 to 2 vote, the board agree to a pilot run with Proximity Learning, reevaluating in November.
“If we are not fully equipped if we cant devote the resources to provide a computer to everyone in the class then I can see that being an issue,” said Abalos.
Most schools utilizing the online classroom give each student a laptop with headphones and a mic. However ECISD schools don’t have enough laptops or money to buy them so students will be taught on one large screen.
“We don’t have a live person in there teaching them and then if we have problems with the technology that makes it even worse,” said Abalos.
“Its an opportunity to find certified teachers for our classrooms, until we are able to hire somebody full time and be there in person,” said Mike Adkins, Public information officer, ECISD.
This is a temporary solution to get certified teachers where we need them most and the alternative is cutting programs that are not required by the state.
“You know, we are required by the state to do math, science, English and history, we are required by state. Athletics, band, we’re not required. If we don’t get these teachers a raise and put more teachers in so they can educate our kids then athletics and fine arts will be gone in the next two years,” said Woodall.
If the test run goes will, virtual teachers will be found all around the Basin.