Randall Bryant, who is building the new Residential Treatment Facility near Brenham and Rachel Blankenburg, the designated Director of the facility, answered questions during a 2 hour informational meeting Wednesday morning. Among the 21 people attending the meeting were representatives from Washington County, the City of Brenham, The Brenham State Supported Living Center, the Brenham School District, Faith Mission, and State Senator Lois Kolkhorst.
Bryant started out by describing the facility and the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) program they plan on using. He said the facility will most resemble the Krause Residential Center in Katy. He said that while he worked at both the Five Oaks Achievement Center in New Ulm and Prairie Harbor facility in Wallis, he saw many things that he would do differently in Brenham. Bryant said that the Brenham facility will be a secure and safe place and they will screen the teenagers before accepting them, so they only have those wanting to be here.
Brenham Superintendent Walter Jackson asked that if they are licensed, how many teachers would be required. Bryant said they would need 3 BISD teachers if they reach the 32 student maximum. He said the students would be taught in a classroom on the facility. Jackson said that BISD currently is responsible for 4,980 students, and 641 of those are special education students, well above the state average. He said that BISD is committed to teaching children, but that adding 32 students that would only be in the District for 3 to 6 months, would be a challenge.
State Senator Lois Kolkhorst said that placing a Residential Treatment Facility in a rural area places a burden not only on the school district, but also on the community as the talent to run the facility and the required payroll may not be available. Randall said they would be drawing professional staff from a large area, and not trying to attract staff from the Brenham State Supported Living Center.
Washington County Sheriff Otto Hanak talked about the large number of law enforcement calls to both the Five Oaks Achievement Center and The Prairie Harbor facility. He asked how this facility could be any different. Bryant responded by saying that he and his partners live in Brenham and their intent is to run a different type of facility. Blankenburg added that they would not be pressured into just filling beds to please out of town investors. She said they plan on starting off with just a few students and grow slowly, adding that they do not expect to make a profit for several years.
Rev. Randy Wells of Faith Mission asked about the post discharge plans for the students. He said that just dropping the kids into the community when they finished the program wouldn’t work. Blankenberg said that a key part of the TBRI program is finding a family member that is willing to take in the student when they leave to help them transition into society.
County Judge John Brieden said that his biggest concern is that things could change if a local investor sells off to someone else or if the entire facility is sold. Bryant said that all he could offer at this time is that is not their intent, that they plan on operating the facility in Brenham for many years.