Numbers Count: BISD recruiting students now year-round

·4 min read

Aug. 27—As the 2022-2023 school year begins, the Brownsville Independent School District is updating its student lists, making home visits with students who haven't shown up and encouraging families to make what it regards as the obvious best choice — Brownsville ISD.

In Texas, public schools officially record their enrollment in late October on what is known as PEIMS snapshot day. This year it's Oct. 28. So in the run-up to that day BISD is recruiting students — new, former, lost or otherwise — as the district begins the return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

A year ago, on Oct. 29, 2021, BISD had 38,448 students.

The district budgeted and projected the 2022-2023 school year with an enrollment of 36,850, a figure that BISD has already surpassed, with a current estimated enrollment of 37,611 as of Thursday, district officials said

"We're a little bit higher than last year and the year before. We're glad to see that and we want to continue increasing our enrollment as much as possible," Superintendent René Gutiérrez said.

He added that the PEIMS number is important because BISD receives state funding of about $7,000 per student based on average daily attendance.

"And the thing is it's very easy for parents to find out who has the better schools and Brownsville ISD has the better schools. We have an A-rated school district. The charter schools and the private schools are Bs and Cs. And that should be the biggest selling point to everyone in this community, that our academic programs are A-rated based on the Texas Education Agency's accountability system," Gutiérrez said.

TEA announced the ratings a week ago on the weekend before BISD students returned to classes Aug. 16.

The fact Brownsville ISD scored among the top districts in the state came as little surprise to BISD officials, who have long promoted the district as the best educational choice in Brownsville.

"It's year-round, I mean this is a 24-7 effort by us to market the school district to the community, to showcase our programs," Gutiérrez said of BISD's recruitment efforts. "The recruitment of kids, it's every day, year-round, because we want our kids that live in BISD to come to BISD campuses because we offer the better education, the better opportunities and we have the better resources," he said.

Gutiérrez pointed to BISD's athletic programs for boys and girls, its comprehensive fine arts programs, clubs and organizations such as robotics clubs, and many other offerings that add up to "more programs and more opportunities for our kids to be college and career ready."

In addition, BISD offers 3-year-old and 4-year-old early childhood education programs, which research shows are key to success later on in the middle school and high school years.

BISD also is home to a dual enrollment program with Texas Southmost College at all six of its comprehensive early college high schools, Hanna, Pace, Porter, Lopez, Rivera and Veterans Memorial, as well as Brownsville Early College High School on the TSC campus. Dual-enrollment college credit hours can save parents thousands of dollars in college tuition, fees and books, Gutiérrez said.

"This past year we had over 300 seniors graduate with an associate's degree. That's never been seen before in this community and it's only going to continue to grow," Gutiérrez said. "We offer all those opportunities that other schools, charter schools or private schools, cannot offer. We want our parents, our kids who live in BISD, to come to our schools because we care about the child and we want the child to succeed through our programs because we want them to have a quality life after graduation," he said.

Finding students who haven't come back from the pandemic is a matter of reviewing lists, making phone calls and home visits and talking to parents to "find out where those kids are and to bring them back to school," Gutiérrez said.

The effort will culminate in BISD's annual Walk for the Future on Sept. 10 when school principals, administrators and volunteers will block walk looking for students who haven't returned to school and talk with their families about BISD's programs and opportunities. All schools are participating.

"We're having meetings already with principals, we're reviewing our lists of kids that haven't shown up. We're going out there and finding them and finding out what happened, so were already working on that now that school has started. We already hit the ground running," Gutiérrez said.