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Board hears progress report on curriculum audit

December 14, 2017 GMT

The Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees got an update on eight campuses that are on improvement required status under state accountability standards due to low state test scores.

Trustees also got a progress report on steps being taken to implement recommendations from a curriculum audit conducted by WLK Educational Consultants that focused on kindergarten through third grade English Language Arts. The audit was commissioned by the Education Foundation.

WLK Consultants includes Rita Latimer, retired executive director of curriculum and instruction for Richardson ISD who also has worked for ECISD; Joyce Wilson, retired assistant superintendent of the elementary division in Richardson; and Patti Kieker, deputy superintendent in Richardson.

Jim Nelson, an attorney and educational consultant, organized the presentation, which was commissioned by the Education Foundation.

WLK started compiling data for the curriculum audit in February and visited many campuses, talked to teachers, principals and ECISD officials at a variety of levels. They presented student performance data, ways to better organize the district’s curriculum and make it more consistent, pointed out attributes and flaws in the hiring of teachers and talked about getting curriculum and instruction and operations officials more connected. By operations, they meant of elementary and secondary operations.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Carolyn Gonzalez and Director of Literacy Amy Harvey gave the presentation.

Gonzalez said they have begun a pacing calendar for all testing grade levels to tell teachers day by day what they should be teaching.

It’s recommended that campuses on improvement required status use the documents as the framework for their lesson plans, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and Harvey said the lesson plans could be added on to.

Gonzalez said they will bring back exemplar lessons and are using lessons aligned with the state.

Asked about bringing in outside experts, Superintendent Tom Crowe said there are experts in house. It’s creating the time for them to do the work on the curriculum and scheduling that’s a challenge.

Officials did emphasize that experts from WLK are being used and these are initial plans. Crowe said WLK will probably visit the district three more times.

Board Secretary Donna Smith said she perceived that Gonzalez and Harvey are still gathering things together, it’s a work in progress and they are getting feedback from teachers.

Gonzalez and Crowe said campuses are being given the opportunity to buy materials they want, as long as it fits with what the district is doing.

“We don’t want to take away their artistry,” Crowe said.

Gonzalez said there was a recommendation to hire two more people to help Harvey in literacy, but they could not see taking people out of the classroom to do that.

They plan to return after Christmas break to offer an update.

Lorraine Perryman, who is on the Education Foundation board of directors, thanked the district and said the foundation is “here to help ECISD be the best it can be.”

Board President Carol Gregg said the board understands that this has been a lot of work done very quickly with an extreme amount of effort.

“We really appreciate that,” Gregg said.

She added that the board wants to make sure the district does the best it can with the students.

Principals from Ector Middle School, Blackshear Elementary School, Bonham Middle School, Downing Elementary, Goliad Elementary, Noel Elementary, Pease Elementary and Zavala Elementary gave updates on what they were doing to work toward getting out of improvement required status.

Ector Middle School, Noel and Zavala elementary schools are in their fifth year of IR.

If the schools do not get off of improvement required by the end of the 2017-18 school year, those campuses could be closed or the district could lose local control.

Principals discussed their areas of concern and various measures being taken from changing student schedules to more tutoring and incentivizing attendance.

Trustees received a report on their continuing education requirements. All school board members have annual continuing education requirements, and all of our Trustees have met those requirements.

In other business, the board:

>> Voted 5-0 to approve the annual $1,000 retainer agreement for Walsh Gallegos Trevino Russo & Kyle PC Special Education Legal Services.

>> Voted 5-0 to approve two purchases over $50,000. The first item is for ECISD’s integrated pest management program through Hurt Exterminating at $103,950 and the second is for excess risk insurance coverage $701,748.

>> Received an update on the district’s FIRST Report. FIRST stands for Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas and is designed to assess the quality of a school district’s financial management.

The district’s original rating was B, for above standard, but on appeal it was raised to an A for superior.

>> Voted 5-0 to approve Board Policy FO (Local) relating to student discipline. The policy specifies that video from ECISD security cameras can be used in disciplinary investigations, and can be made available to parents or students who want to view it. This has been the practice, it is now expressed in local policy.

>> Voted 5-0 to approve Board Policy CH (Local) Purchasing and Acquisition. This policy change allows the superintendent to request approval from the board president for purchases over $50,000 when an urgent need exists and a purchase must be made before the next school board meeting.

>> Voted 5-0 to adopt a vision statement to guide their work. That vision statement is “ECISD, where all students succeed.”