Ector County ISD recently gave its superintendent a raise at a recent school board meeting despite pleading poverty with regard to a new state law requiring every Texas school to have an armed security officer on campus.
The district’s board of trustees voted on September 12 to increase Superintendent Scott Muri’s base salary and extend his contract until 2027.
“The school board approved a 3% raise, the same percentage given to all staff members during budget adoption in June. For the superintendent, that is $9,576.75,” said Mike Adkins, Ector County ISD’s chief communications officer, in a statement to The Dallas Express.
Ector County ISD will pay Muri $319,224 per year in accordance with the pay bump. Even with the raise, Muri’s salary still falls below what Dallas ISD pays its superintendent. As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas ISD Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde makes a base salary of $338,000, with bonus opportunities totaling $100,000.
Muri’s pay raise followed a vote by Ector County ISD’s school board last month to file for a good-cause exemption to HB 3, the new Texas law mandating armed security at schools. Dallas ISD also asked the state for an exemption, claiming that it did not have enough officers or money in its budget to comply with the law. The district’s budget for the 2023-2024 school year is more than $2.5 billion.
“To meet this new requirement, [Ector County ISD] would need an additional 30 police officers at an initial cost of $4.5 million and $2.1 million in recurring costs. State funding will provide $15,000 per campus and $0.28 per student through Average Daily Attendance (ADA), about $684,000. Perhaps the state will provide appropriate funding for this in the future. In addition to funding, it will take more time to find the qualified personnel to meet this requirement,” Adkins told The Dallas Express.
Ector County Republican Party Chair Tisha Crow expressed her dissatisfaction with the ISD’s decision to forego maintaining peace officers at all its campuses.
“I’m a bit frustrated with our school trustees,” she told the Odessa Headlines last month. “While I realize that adding additional costs to our school district’s budget isn’t ideal, I think we also need our [t]rustees to keep this number in perspective.”
“The costs associated with armed school personnel represents less than one half of one percent of our $410 million school budget. I think this is a small price to pay to ensure that our students, teachers, and staff are as safe as possible,” Crow said.
HB 3 was passed in the most recent regular session of the Texas Legislature following the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde last year. The law provides alternatives to school districts who cannot find enough certified officers to station at their campuses. One such option involves allowing district employees to get certification through the School Marshal program so they can lawfully serve as armed security.
Wallace Dunn, a local firearms instructor, offered to provide the district with the requisite training free of charge, but Muri reportedly gave him “a cold shoulder,” according to The Texan.