Brownsville ISD to host meetings on school consolidation

dfwnewsa | March 20, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Brownsville ISD to host meetings on school consolidation

The Brownsville Independent School District will host two community meetings early next week as plans to consolidate three pairs of elementary schools in the Southmost area move forward.

The meetings on Monday and Tuesday at Casteneda and Del Castillo elementary schools, respectively, are to begin with an evening meal at 5 p.m. in the cafeteria at each school, followed at 5:30 by presentations from the administration and then the opportunity for parents and other interested stakeholders to speak.


On Feb. 21, BISD announced plans to consolidate Garza and Southmost, Cromack and Casteneda, and Del Castillo and Morningside elementary schools.

Meetings were held Feb. 27-28 at Garza and Southmost, and on March 4 at Cromack.

After the Casteneda and Del Castillo meetings, one final community meeting is scheduled April 8 at Morningside Elementary before the BISD Board of Trustees is tentatively scheduled to vote April 9 on the proposed consolidation plan.

Interim Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez, who on Wednesday was set to sign a contract and officially became BISD superintendent, said at the Feb. 21 meeting that the BISD board may ultimately “decide to do one consolidation, two or three, or none at all.”

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He also took pains to reassure parents that teachers would follow any moving students to their new school and that consolidation would be accomplished without any BISD employee losing their job.

“What we have said throughout our budget process is that everyone who currently works with us will continue to have a job with us. If there is indeed a consolidation, then we will have some excess individuals, but we will be absorbing those through attrition,” Chavez said.

“We have about an 8% attrition rate. We will find a place for you to continue to assist our students in this great district. So I don’t want employees out there to think there will not be a job,” he said.

Judy Moreno, backed by other parents from Del Castillo Elementary, speaks Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, during a school consolidation meeting. BISD is considering consolidation of three pairs of elementary schools, including Cormack and Castaneda, Garza and Southmost and Del Castillo and Morningside. (Courtesy: Brownsville ISD/YouTube)

BISD’s budget crunch is due to multiple factors, but two main ones have come into play at the same time, Chavez has said:


>> The Legislature’s well publicized refusal, under pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott about private school vouchers, to grant funds to public education even though Texas is sitting on more than a $31 billion budget surplus.

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>> A state law that requires the state comptroller to do a property value study. Cameron County came up randomly this year, and the state’s values “came way higher than what our local values are, and as a result of that, the state took away $14 million,” he said.

Chavez said BISD is targeting a $20 million reduction in expenses, but the use of $8 million in fund balance reduces the number to $12 million.

The consolidation plan anticipates more than $3 million in combined savings at the three pairs of schools by merging operations: $1.23 million at Cromack/Casteneda, $883,445 at Garza/Southmost and $1.36 million at Del Castillo/Morningside.

During the initial presentation, Deputy Superintendent Nellie Cantu said the funds could be reallocated to enhance curriculum at the schools. Potentially, one or more of them could re-brand as a fine arts or STEM academy or other specialty school so that in the end students would have more programs to choose from than at their original school.

In a letter posted on the BISD website and addressed to the Brownsville ISD community, administration urges stakeholders to get involved.

“While no final decisions have been made at this time, we want to ensure that you are informed and involved in this process. … Your input and feedback in the decision-making process are valuable to us as we are committed to addressing your concerns and questions you may have,” the letter states.

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