Community Input Sought as Brownwood ISD’s Project Neighborhood Gains Steam
Article by: Sara Musgrove
“How can our primary grade programs maximize student achievement while continuing to offer a nurturing, student-centered neighborhood experience?” asked Dr. Joe Young, Superintendent of Brownwood Independent School District (BISD). Young and other BISD administrators presented questions and solutions for community members at the recent “Project Neighborhood” meetings.
In the fall of 2019, Brownwood ISD began discussions with stakeholder groups, including staff, parents, and community members, in order to answer this complex question. Several ideas were generated and discussed, including an early childhood center and moving the third and sixth grades to different campuses. After several months of dialogue, no better option was clear when compared to the current configuration. Currently, Head Start through sixth-grade students are divided up onto several campuses, with Head Start in its own facility, preschool through third grade at three elementary campuses, and fourth through sixth grades at the intermediate school.
Through additional discussion, administrative meetings, and community engagement, a concept has emerged that focuses on student achievement while providing solutions to some of the logistical problems anticipated with previous ideas. For simplicity, BISD calls this solution Project Neighborhood.
Project Neighborhood realigns Brownwood ISD primary campuses to provide continuity of services from Head Start through fifth grade within our neighborhood elementary schools. The proposed changes would add Head Start to the three elementary campuses and Coggin Intermediate. This would transition Coggin Intermediate to a school that provides education for students in Head Start through sixth grade. East Elementary, Northwest Elementary, and Woodland Heights Elementary would house students from Head Start to fifth grade. “We realize this requires change, which has positives and negatives,” Young said. “But we already have these students and teachers. We already have the buildings, chairs, and library books. We aren’t adding students or teachers. It would be rearranging them to help alleviate some struggles and to make the learning process more manageable and productive for families in their neighborhoods.”
Project Neighborhood’s transition would require redrawing the district’s boundary lines and for some teachers to move campuses. However, by transitioning to this arrangement, younger students stay in their neighborhood campus longer, parent involvement opportunities increase, parents travel less, and students grow as leaders on a familiar campus. Project Neighborhood also allows for better-aligned curriculum collaboration, assessments between grade levels, and growth opportunities with the added grades on each campus.
A decision about moving forward with this plan (for the 2022-2023 school year) would not be made until the early spring of 2022. The third informational meeting will be held Wednesday, October 6, at 5:30 PM at Northwest Elementary School. “We want to hear from you,” Young said. “Nothing is set in stone. We want feedback and want to do what is best for the kids and our community.”
Everyone is encouraged to provide ideas through participation in upcoming stakeholder meetings, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or contacting their neighborhood school principal. More information regarding Project Neighborhood can be found online at https://www.brownwoodisd.org/projectneighborhood.