Brenham ISD’s student enrollment is currently down from the end of the previous school year.
During a report at Monday’s meeting of the Brenham School Board, Superintendent Dr. Tylor Chaplin said, as of Friday, the district had 4,899 students across its seven campuses, compared to the 5,047 students enrolled at the end of the 2019-20 school year.
Dr. Chaplin pointed to two potential contributors to the drop in enrollment: the number of students at the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) is down, and the district’s Head Start program has not started yet. He said he is confident that students, particularly those at the ECLC, will return as parents become more comfortable mitigating the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19.
Dr. Chaplin said of the current student enrollment, about 79 percent of students are learning face-to-face, while 21 percent are learning remotely. On Friday, the district began the commitment period for the second six weeks, and students are now able to recommit to a different form of learning by filling out a new commitment form. Students who wish to stay in their current method of instruction do not have to fill out a new form. Dr. Chaplin said some students are coming back, with a majority coming back face-to-face and others shifting from face-to-face to remote learning.
Dr. Chaplin also brought attention to the district’s COVID-19 dashboard after mentioning he has been asked why it is not being updated with current cases in the district. He assured that the dashboard is regularly updated, and that the district does indeed have zero active cases of COVID-19. He thanked district staff and administrators for the work they have done in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board gave pre-approval to submit the district’s asynchronous learning plan to the Texas Education Agency (TEA). According to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Brandi Hendrix, the district began the process July 9th when it sent out a letter of intent to parents who showed interest in online instruction. On July 20th, the TEA then began sending out information concerning what districts need for their asynchronous learning plans.
The first iteration of the plan needs to be submitted by October 1st to the TEA, who will then have 30-45 days to review the plan and either approve it or send it back to Brenham ISD for modifications. The final plan needs to be complete by January 5th, the first day of the fourth six week grading period.
Dr. Chaplin said working on the district’s asynchronous plan after school has already started “speaks to the fluidity of the situation”. He said the TEA’s guidelines primarily refer to how districts count asynchronous learners for attendance and funding purposes. He said the situation is not necessarily trial and error, but that adapting is necessary as circumstances that were not previously considered come into play. He credited the TEA with allowing districts to make iterations to their plans.
The board also:
- approved an order authorizing issuance of the district's series 2020 unlimited tax refunding bonds, levying a continuing ad valorem tax for the payment of the bonds, and delegating authority to certain board members and district staff to execute documents relating to the sale of the bonds. Business and Finance Director Kim Weatherby said the district is refinancing approximately $27,684,638, and the refinancing will save roughly $7.1 million over the life of the bond.
- approved a donation from the Brenham ISD Education Foundation.
- approved the purchase of 265 Chromebooks and 12 charging carts for $79,281 from SHI Government Solutions.
- passed a resolution encouraging a culture of voting among district staff and eligible students.
- Tabled an item on the agenda pertaining bids for lawn care services.