ECTOR COUNTY, Texas — Decisions made during the 88th Texas Legislative session will create some challenges locally for school districts.
While there was discussion regarding education during the session, those conversations ultimately did not result in action.
Ector County ISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri noted that ECISD was in Austin quite a bit, influencing those discussions on education. He said that while having those conversations in the state legislature is progress, several key items did not end up passing.
“There was no raise for teachers included in this session," said Muri. "Much of the pipeline work — the developing teachers from high school all the way through college, or the looking at individuals with college degrees who want to enter the profession — so a lot of the teacher pipeline development work was unfunded. The teacher residency model was not funded. A lot of the investments that we should be making in teachers to attract them, recruit them, retain them, those investments did not make it across the finish line.”
ECISD has been a leader when it comes to investing in its staff to attract, recruit and retain, but inaction in the state’s capitol will impact how they move forward.
“The unfortunate part of our legislative session is that much of the funding that is used to pay for those options was not granted by the state legislature, so that makes our job locally a bit more difficult," said Muri. "And so, in the coming weeks we’ll be making some decisions about the investments that we’ll make in our people. But again, our legislature has made that very difficult this year.”
The district’s upcoming budget, which needs to be finalized by the end of the month, will be affected.
“Much of our revenue comes from the state of Texas, and so their decisions affect the revenue stream that is used to pay for the work that we do locally," said Muri.
With limited funding, ECISD will have to set some priorities.
“We know that the number one factor that influences student achievement is [the] teacher and the number two is the principal, and we’ve been very strategic in the investments that we’ve made in those individuals over the last four years," said Muri. "And we will continue to invest deeply in, not only those two subgroups of individuals, but every member of team ECISD.”
Muri mentioned that they hope Texas Governor Greg Abbott will call for a special session to specifically address public education. Funding for teacher compensation, basic allotment and pipeline development is the goal, so they can continue to serve students as best as they can.