Overflow of students in Ector Co. puts a strain on teachers

ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - The oil boom may be great for the Permian Basin economy but it is hurting the local education system, and students at Permian High School are just some of the students that are affected.

"The school is built, for 2,500 and so we stand at 36, so you get these hallways that are crazy and you can't move through fast enough," Danny Jay Gex, Permian High Principal.

Not only is the increase in population and more students in Odessa becoming a problem, but teachers are leaving the classroom for the oil field.

"In the math and the science field, you can go to the oil field, they are desperate, for workers too just like we are in education, and the pay is so much more. The teacher pay is really disgraceful in the state of Texas we need new legislatures," said Valerie Hammit, math teacher, Permian High School.

When teachers leave their classroom, the students are dumped into other classrooms or given a substitute teacher.
Hammit, says right now she currently has 237 students, which is about a 100 more students than she had at the beginning of the school year.

The increase of students was because another pre-calculus teacher left half-way through the school year for a job in the oil field.

"Just on the last grading period. Is about 6 and 7 and half weeks long I put my hands on 6,000 pieces of paper," said Hammit.

Who can blame a teacher for wanting more pay?

The average salary for a starting teacher in the Ector County School District is $44,500 which includes a $3,000 incentive.

More information on teachers in Texas and their salaries, click here.

Keep in mind, it is a salary position and teachers are working close to 13-hours a day.

There is no argument that any oil company could tantalize more benefits and higher pay.

So after the teacher left, Hammit took the overload of the other teacher's students.

But, she says it was the students that would suffer if an unqualified teacher took over, so she feels overworked and underpaid.

"Its hard for a sub to do that especially in the upper-level math, so I just did it. I don't know what I was thinking," said Hammit.

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