Bryan school board members on Monday accepted $100,000 in donations for the district’s new Career and Technical Education Complex and approved spending $4.79 million on projects funded by the district’s latest bond.
The city of Bryan and the city of Bryan — Brazos County Economic Development Foundation each donated $50,000 for equipment purchases at the CTEC.
The BBCEDF donation will go toward a plasma cutting table and an “iron worker” machine. The city’s donation will purchase a lathe and a mill for the new industrial engineering program.
“It’s going to make it industry standard, and that’s what we’re looking for in our programs,” said David Reynolds, the district’s career and technical education director.
Less than a month after the community approved a $12 million bond for the Bryan school district, school board members unanimously approved moving ahead with four items paid for by those funds.
Nearly $2 million will be spent on 19 new buses: 12 77-passenger buses, two 84-passenger buses, one 54-passenger bus and four trip buses, which have cargo storage unlike traditional school buses.
Another $2.83 million will go toward re-roofing projects at Bryan High School and MC Harris High School.
Work on the roofs at both campuses are “long-overdue” and in most places, the roof is “beyond repair,” said Paul Buckner, energy and construction project manager for the district.
The Bryan High School work was awarded to Advantage USAA Inc. The MC Harris project was awarded to CR Systems Inc.
The board also approved final payment and deductive change orders for the district administration building, SFA Middle School and the project to relocate the grounds department.
Outside of construction projects, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with Sam Houston State University for a program known as 4+1 Teach.
The program is funded with a grant, and the university wanted to include the Bryan school district as a partner in the program.
“What the district will benefit and get from the grant is that they have selected top candidates to come teach in Bryan,” said Carol Cune, the district’s executive director of human resources and administration.
The candidates are credentialed college graduates, and while participating in the program will be able to work on a master’s degree through Sam Houston State University.
The following summer, the program teachers will lead and run district summer camps. Mentor teachers who work with the new teachers will receive a $1,000 stipend.
The board also approved an addendum to the memorandum of understanding between Blinn College and Bryan Collegiate High School that sets the cost per student per course at $136. Over the course of the four-year agreement, Blinn will scaffold in the cost at 25% this year, 50% the next year, 75% the third year and 100% by the final year of the four-year MOU.
The program will remain free for students as the district covers the cost per student enrolled at Blinn through the early college high school.
Last May, Blinn and Bryan Collegiate entered a new four-year agreement in which the school district would pay the difference between Blinn’s cost to operate the program and the reimbursement the college receives from the state for instructional time.
Prior to the MOU approved in May 2018, Blinn College was offering the program at no cost to the district.
“This spring, as we received one of our first calculations of what that invoice might look like for this school year, we realized it was not as predictable as we had thought it might be,” said Barbara Ybarra, associate superintendent of teaching and learning for the district, noting the cost was double what the district anticipated.
The cost per student varied greatly, she said, based on the years of experience of the specific instructor. Ybarra called Blinn a “wonderful partner” and said the college administrators were gracious in being willing to negotiate and revise the funding formula.
“The unfortunate reality is just that we are in for a considerable greater expenditure for our agreement with Blinn for Bryan Collegiate,” Bryan Superintendent Christie Whitbeck said. “They’re willing to work with us to phase it in, so to speak, so that it’s not such a hard hit, but nevertheless, at [$136] per student per course, it is going to be a considerable part of our budget. It’s also part of our vision. ... It will cost us a greater lion’s share as we go forward.”