Brockton Public Schools’ reengagement center waiting for a new home

Over the last year, several Brockton Public Schools programs have operated out of buildings that the school district leases around the city, like the Brockton Therapeutic Day School and Community Schools located at the Westgate Mall.

But Brockton Public Schools now must vacate these leased properties as the school year comes to an end. Before next year, some schools will swap facilities to free up space. One program, however, still doesn’t have a home.

Brockton’s New Beginnings Reengagement Center is currently located in a leased building at the Brockton Fairgrounds and the lease expires this summer. Brockton Public Schools has sent out a request for proposal for a new location to house the reengagement center, but the request is still pending.

According to the school district’s procurement laws, Brockton Public Schools can’t freely renegotiate a new lease with the Fairgrounds without submitting a request for proposal first, Acting Superintendent James Cobbs said. Any property owner in Brockton can respond to the request for proposal if they’d like to house the program, including the Brockton Fairgrounds.

What is the reengagement center?

Brockton’s reengagement center, known as New Beginnings, officially launched at the start of this school year, but the program has existed in some capacity before then.

Brockton Public Schools has been working to connect with Brockton students who dropped out of school, or otherwise haven’t been attending school, to bring them back into a school environment. Students who want to come back to school can start by taking classes at the reengagement center.

More: Brockton Therapeutic Day School and Edison Day Academy relocating, school committee votes

Students can take one or more classes at a time, earning back high school credits and getting back on track to graduate. Students take classes at their own pace and can utilize the staff and resources that the reentry program has to offer.

On top of their classwork, students are slowly reintegrated back into the school system, interacting with peers, tutors, adjustment councilors and mentors who help them get used to the social and emotional aspects of going to school.

Once a student has earned enough credits and is ready to take on school full time, they’ll enroll in one of Brockton Public Schools’ pathway programs like the Edison Day Academy.

How common is dropping out?

The Brockton School Committee recently passed a resolution urging the state to increase its school dropout age from 16 to 18, which several other school districts across Massachusetts are expected to sign onto.

Since 2012, between 150 and 200 Brockton Public Schools students have dropped out every year, ranging from 3% to 5% of the total high school-age enrollment, according to data from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

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However, state data show that the dropout rate began to increase in 2022 when 224 students, or 5.1%, left the district. In 2023, the dropout rate peaked for the first time since 2011 at 6%, with 245 students exiting of school.

Over the last two years, English language learners have had the highest dropout percentage. In 2022, roughly 10% of the district’s 1,200 English learners dropped out, while 12.6% of the 1,145 students dropped out in 2023.

Where will the reengagement center go?

The Brockton School Committee has approved a whole slate of facilities moves going into next school year to make room for the programs and schools that have to vacate leased properties.

The committee considered moving the reengagement center to the Jones Building on Summer Street, but the Therapeutic Day School will take that space.

Some committee members want to keep New Beginnings at the facility on the Brockton Fairgrounds, but the law requires that Brockton Public Schools seek out bidders to house the program. Brockton Public Schools has not announced if any property owners have responded to the request for proposal yet.


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