West Texas Schools Battle Extreme Overcrowding 8/29/12
CBS 7 Reporter
August 29, 2012
Odessa, TX -Class started Monday and Ector County ISD already has nearly 2,000 more students than they did at this time last year.
To put that in perspective, that's enough students to fill 3 elementary schools.
Barbara Jordan has the highest enrollment of any elementary school in ECISD.
"I think the overcrowding is something important for us to address," explains PTA president Malcolm Tyree.
Tyree has 2 children at Jordan and he says the growth is impossible to ignore.
"We know that there are kids who have you know 25 plus classmates, so that makes for a hard day."
Capacity at the school is 650 students; right now there are 928 and counting.
"Our teachers are taking this in stride,” explains Principal Mary Sanchez. “We realize that, yes, we have more students than we had anticipated, but at the same time were pushing each other to make sure we meet their needs academically."
To accommodate the growth, they have added 9 portable buildings including a doublewide trailer.
"We've really worked hard on having the older students outside so that we can keep the little ones inside," Sanchez explains.
In some cases, storage closets are converted into classrooms so they can be used for smaller groups of students.
"Even though we have many students here, were paying particular focus to where exactly are our gaps? How can we pull those students into tutorial groups during the day so that we can provide them with the intervention they need?" Sanchez claims.
Also, teachers keep to a tight schedule during morning drop-off. And feeding more than 900 children in a cafeteria built for just 600 creates major challenges.
"We have to make sure that we’re on time,” Sanchez says. “If a student or a class is even a minute or 2 late that can push us back all the way up to 15 minutes."
Across the street, there are several houses being built and they are expecting about 450 houses to be built in a nearby field, meaning more families who will want their kids at Barbara Jordan.
"It’s great that we have all these people moving to our area and it's great we have them all wanting to come to school here at Jordan and be a part of this wonderful neighborhood and community, but yea it does tax the physical plant for us to be able to have over 900 students here," says Tyree.
He believes it's time for parents to be involved, and if they can, get in a classroom themselves.
"It gives more of that one on one attention and an opportunity for the parent to see what's going on inside the classroom and when they see what's going on inside the classroom they know better how to help the school district."
ECISD is already pushing 30,000 students and counting
On the first day of school, Barbara Jordan in north Odessa had the most students. Followed by Murry fly, Pease and Cavazos, all schools on the west side of Odessa.These are areas that are specifically targeted in the ECISD bond proposal.