According to ECISD officials, the district is growing at an abnormally high rate. Last year alone they added about 400 students district-wide. That's a number they've already exceeded this year, and school hasn't even started. "We definitely anticipate a much larger enrollment, especially after we get beyond labor day, than maybe we've had in the past ten years or so," says Rosson.
To accommodate all that growth, the district currently has about 100 portable buildings, 70 of which are being used at elementary schools across Odessa. When you break it down, ECISD Chief Operations Officer David Finley says, "That's about 54,000 square feet of space. It accommodates 1,500 students, which is about 2 elementary schools."
More new students, means more new teachers. On average, ECISD hires 200 each year. This year, they've already hired over 300, and finding housing for new teachers hasn't been easy. Not only is there a lack of housing, the housing that is available is typically too expensive for a teachers salary, but Rosson says they're finding ways to make it work. "I have several realtors here in town helping us out, trying to find housing for people," he says. "We have people literally opening their homes with spare bedrooms and bringing them in to let them stay temporarily."
While the district is bringing in new teachers, they're also losing them to high paying oil jobs - both directly and indirectly. "We've lost teachers who have decided to stay at home (and) be stay-at-home moms because their husbands are making a whole lot more money in the oil field, and they don't have to rely on both incomes," says Rosson.
But losing teachers is only part of the problem. On the operations side, they've lost employees across the board. The hardest hit is possibly transportation. Finley says, "Every school you pass you actually see billboards: Bus Drivers Needed."
Finley says while they're excited to accommodate a growing number of students, they're also currently looking to hire qualified employees. You can find more information about those positions on ECISD's website. You can also find more information on the upcoming November bond election right here.
For more on how the boom is impacting Midland ISD, check out last week's Energy Report.
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