Students change career paths as Midland’s population increases.
Sonia Ford, Midland College mathematics professor, has noticed some changes that the oil boom has had in the minds of students.
“The college populations has not quite increased,” Ford said, “If anything it has actually decreased.”
One of the significant changes that has occurred is that more people are becoming interested in petroleum engineering.
“I have noticed an increase of people who already work for the oil business and want to come back for their engineering degree so they can earn more money,” Ford said. “Fewer students come to MC right from high school because they have the choice of making money and taking a break from studying to work.”
Although there are fewer students enrolling at Midland College, the waiting list at the MC child care center has gotten longer.
According to Tanya Primera, the director of the MC child care and development center, there have been major changes that have taken place at the child care center. One of the major changes has been the waiting list. While it used to be six months long it has gotten up to two years.
There are some exceptions to this rule. One of them is when a pre-K group graduates and the other is when one of the many children leaves the program.
According to Martha Ramos, a nurse at the Midland Family Physicians clinic, said that the population has indeed grown. She has noticed that many of the people that moved to Midland are oilfield workers in a range from early to late 20s.
The clinic she works at conducts the physicals required by oil companies in order to work for them.
In addition, she said that due to the population growth, especially in this season, the clinic has run out of commonly used medication. The flu shots are one of the most common types of medication to run out.
“We have ran out several times,” she said, “That is not counting the people who decide not to get the shot.”
Midland Independent School District Superintendent Ryder Warren said that one of the major by-products of the oil boom has been dealing with the cost of living. “Some of our teachers are probably paying half of their net income just for rent,” he said.
“Odessa is facing the same issues as we are (and also) in some of the smaller school districts.”
There are five things Midland is doing that no other district is having to deal with. The Scharbauer Foundation had donated $3.3 million over the next year and a half to help teachers out with housing and living expenses.
The Henry Foundation has donated $1 million for the same period of time to help the support staff at the schools.
The West campus of the Hospital has been renovated into hotel rooms. Fifteen teachers have been living in those rooms for the last three or four months.
“As a school district, we just bought 20 modular homes and we put them in the east side of town and we’ve got about 25 teachers living in school modular homes so they can afford to live here,” Warren said. “We dedicated probably $6.5 million of the school distric’s money just for salaries.”
He said what has changed most in this area ever since he lived here was the growth and variety of people who now inhabit Midland.
He is happy to say that the high school dropout rates are not as high as many presume.
Oil companies, as a matter a fact, are not taking in workers without a high school diploma which has helped the students stay in school.