Cell phone video depicting seating accommodations in a West Texas high school English classroom reportedly show students sitting on donated paint buckets without desks.
An Odessa Permian High School teacher was overwhelmed by the number of new students in her classroom with a shortage of 36 desks, according to KWES-TV. She reportedly sought additional seating arrangements from a local Home Depot store, which provided her with plastic 5-gallon buckets to accommodate the overflow.
The Ector County Independent School District touted the teacher’s resourcefulness.
“We love that independence, fixing a problem that you see without feeling like you’re a burden yourself,” ECISD spokesman Mike Adkins told the local TV station. The district framed the matter as a product of miscommunication, rather than asset shortages:
In this case had we known, we have more desks in the district, we have money in the budget for tables and chairs. There wasn’t a reason for tables and chairs and buckets for the classroom.
While Adkins praised the teacher’s take-charge problem-solving skills, he also said “it makes the school look bad, the district look bad, and the community look bad,” according to the Odessa American.
The spokesman appeared to downplay that overall enrollment in the school district jumped from 32,110 students last year to an all-time-high of 33,134 as recently as Wednesday. Instead, he pointed out that student enrollment at the two ECISD high schools – Permian and Odessa – held firm at last year’s figures of about 3,800, respectively. In April, though, the Texas Tribune reported record enrollment in ECISD, the result of the region’s shale oil boom, has left many classrooms overcrowded.
Odessa Permian rose to national recognition in 1990 after H.G. Bissinger wrote a non-fiction portrait of the school’s football program and the surrounding community, Friday Night Lights. The tome was later named in Sports Illustrated’s top 100 books. A feature-length film adaption followed in 2004 and NBC aired a TV series by the same name from 2006 to 2011, garnering wide critical acclaim.
ECISD built Ratliff Stadium primarily for football purposes in the 1980s for $5.6 million. In August 2007, the district approved a $2.2 million bid to bring the facility into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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