BISD plan to redraw district lines faces backlash

PIISD estimates it would lose $254 million in taxable value

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

It started with a meeting of the Brownsville Independent School District’s (BISD) Policy Committee on Monday, Dec. 10 and continued the following day at a regular meeting of the full BISD school board.

An idea put forth by Board Trustee Philip Cowen to redraw BISD’s district lines, folding in bits and pieces of land within Brownsville city limits that are currently zoned for other school districts — Point Isabel ISD, Los Fresnos CISD and San Benito CISD.

In regards to PIISD, affected land would include Boca Chica, as well as land south of the Port of Brownsville eastward to the Gulf of Mexico.

Cowen proposed reaching out to state legislators, Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. and Representative-elect Alex Dominguez, with the hope of convincing them to author legislation that would allow BISD to redraw its lines so that the school district’s boundaries more closely matched those of the city.

But, it was an idea that came as an unexpected surprise to leaders at each of those three school districts, including Point Isabel ISD Superintendent Dr. Lisa Garcia. “We weren’t advised of this prior to BISD placing this on their agenda,” Dr. Garcia said the week of those two meetings in Brownsville.

Garcia said she met with the superintendents of both Los Fresnos and San Benito, who were just as surprised by the development as she was. “We just all agreed to go back and figure out the numbers and see exactly what the impact would be for each district,” Garcia said.

It turns out that that impact would be substantial for PIISD, resulting in the loss of some $254 million net taxable value, according to the school district’s financial analysis. That figure does not include “any new investments made after July, 2018 at the Port of Brownsville or Boca Chica,” the preliminary analysis reads.

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