West Texas Schools Come up with Temporary Plan to Address Overcrowding 9/4/12
CBS 7 Reporter
September 4, 2012
Midland, TX - Every day last week we reported enrollment increases in schools across West Texas; some of them adding students by the thousands.
So what happens now as the number of students per class grows well above the state-mandated ratio and the campuses run out of space to house them all?
Today Midland ISD released a plan of action to find an immediate fix to the high enrollment. It’s something schools across the Permian Basin are addressing just one week into the new school year.
"We've been meeting daily to look at those numbers and what were showing is an increase each of the days we met," explains Midland ISD's Chief Operating Officer Dr. Randy Baiza
In fact, schools across The Permian Basin are adding students every day.
Andrews ISD added 245 students since the 2011 school year, Big Spring ISD has about 150 more than last year, Ector County ISD is reporting an increase of more than 1400 students and in Midland ISD there is an additional 1600 students.
Dr. Baiza says the surge of students is good for the district but it also presents challenges that are impossible to ignore.
"It is something that is immediate that we need to attend to,” he explains.
The state mandates a student to teacher ratio of 22 to 1 but many schools in MISD, like Fannin Elementary, are pushing 30 students per class. Now the district has no other choice but to request waivers while school principals begin the search for more teachers.
"They've been given the green light to start that process,” Dr. Baiza says. “We've identified a number of teachers we can consider hiring as we speak."
West Texas schools are also ordering new text books, desks and in some cases, portable buildings to house entire classes of students. Midland ISD says they have ordered 3 new portable buildings, with 2 classrooms in each. They hope to have those in by September 10th. As far as hiring goes, the district says first they will look at reassigning their current staff and then add new teachers where they are needed.
"Our kiddos are in school as we speak so we've got to get our resources in place as soon as possible,” he says.
Midland ISD say a permanent solution to the extreme growth could take years but this plan serves as a temporary fix in the mean time.
Ector County ISD has a similar plan to address the massive growth in their district. Officials meet daily to review numbers. ECISD says they will look at reassigning current staff and they are hiring more teachers and teacher aides as needed. Right now their first priority is to meet the teacher student ratio in the K- 4th grade classrooms.