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Staking Claims: Los Fresnos, BISD at odds on boundaries

December 31, 2018

The Los Fresnos school district is resolved not to negotiate boundaries with the Brownsville Independent School District.

The BISD Board of Trustees passed a resolution Dec. 11 reaching out to neighboring school districts and area legislators in an effort to adjust BISD boundaries to correspond with Brownsville city limits.

The Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District quickly passed its own resolution opposing Browsville’s move.

At issue is the part of Brownsville north of Alton Gloor Boulevard and west of Interstate 69. Also, the part of Cameron County south of the Port of Brownsville up to the Gulf of Mexicio is included in BISD’s resolution.

The resolution directed Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas to work with state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., state Rep.-elect Alex Dominguez and superintendents of neighboring districts whose boundaries overlap the city of Brownsville "so that we can discuss a feasibility plan to either exchange or collapse boundaries to better serve Brownsville students."

The entire process of boundary adjustments is covered by Chapter 13 of the Texas Education Code, which generally requires voter approval or legislative action for any changes to take place.

Dominguez said that so far BISD had not approached him about the possibility of boundary adjustments. He said the issue seems to be primarily about funding, which he said is the number one issue facing the Texas Legislature when it convenes in January. He said he has met four times since being elected in November with state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, the presumptive House speaker.

"I think there’s a way to work with all parties to resolve the issues," he said. "Rep. Bonnen wants to tackle public education and Gov. Abbott has said it is his top legislative priority. Discussion about jurisdictional boundaries might be premature. We ought to give the Legislature a chance this session to address this issue. People use those boundarues to make their real estate decisions. In general I like to see parties talking with each other to try to resolve their differences," he said.

In an opinion column written for release Dec. 20, Lucio cautioned against "the rush to have the Texas Legislature litigate an issue best addressed through local efforts, as provided by law and with respect to voters." He also said parents whose children attend schools in question are the ones best qualified to make decisions about those schools.

"I firmly believe that parents are in the best position to determine locally how to provide the educational services that will cultivate our next generation of leaders. I look forward to working with parents, schools and districts across the Valley to determine how we can provide the best opportunities for every single student in South Texas," Lucio concluded in the piece.

In a statement about its outreach on boundaries, BISD said it will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 at Manzano Middle School "to begin dialogue and discussion on possible boundary adjustments." The district invited the public and all district stakeholders to attend.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com

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