Questions About the Bond: "Why NOT a New High School in ECISD?" 10/31/12
CBS 7 Reporter
October 31, 2012
Odessa, TX - Election day is in less than a week and many voters are still undecided when it comes to the school bond elections in Ector and Midland counties.
In Ector County the $129 million bond proposal will build new elementary schools, renovate current buildings and move 9th graders up to the high school campuses.
But many of you at home have asked "Why doesn't the proposal include a new high school altogether?" It turns out the reasoning behind it is much more than a high school rivalry.
There are nearly 2,300 Permian High School students; if the school bond passes next week you can add another thousand kids on to that.
"We’re trying to make a big school kind of feel smaller," explains Permian High School Principal Roy Garcia.
For Garcia that has always been his goal for the 5A campus.
"We're divided into dens, and so each den has about 650 kids and it has as principal in it, a counselor, an attendance clerk, some other clerical help," Garcia explains.
Over the past few months principals at both high schools have spent time meeting with teachers, parents and students about how to make it all work if the bond passes.
Garcia also took a trip to Allen ISD, a mega high school with more than 5,000 students.
"I said I want to see a lunch, I want to see how you feed 950 kids in a cafeteria and I saw them do it twice," Garcia explains.
But representatives of Odessans for Kids say the option of adding a high school is still up for discussion down the road.
"We knew that the most immediate need was at the elementary and the middle school model,” says Collin Sewell with the Political Action Committee. “I absolutely believe that at some point in the future there should be conversations about how our high schools are configured."
The committee says the fact is a new high school would take more debate and research from the community.
"It requires a total redistricting and realignment of the boundaries for high school," Sewell says.
Another issue: cost.
Building a 3rd high school would cost an estimated $90 million and on top of that taxpayers would be responsible for the operating cost which comes out to about $9 million a year forever.
Another concern: how do you find all the additional teachers and staff it would take to run a new high school in an already tight job market?
Odessans for Kids believes this is a discussion worth having, but one that could overshadow the urgency for change in ECISD.
Another issue with adding 9th grade students to the high schools is the parking lot. Mr. Garcia says parking spaces won't be an issue since the students that would be coming in don't drive; but they would come up with a new plan for pick up and drop off on campus.