On Tuesday, the Fort Worth Independent School District will ask voters to approve its largest bond proposal in district history, a $1.5 billion package that will largely focus on the district's aging middle schools.
The district said the proposal will provide for desperately needed capital improvements. FWISD said $1.2 billion of the proposal, which voters will see as Proposition A when they head to the polls Tuesday, would go toward the construction and renovation of all the district's middle schools.
The rest of that money will go toward major improvements to fine arts, athletic and recreational facilities.
In addition to upgrading middle schools, the bond calls for a new elementary school to ease overcrowding in Benbrook, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner said. Three elementary schools would be completely replaced in communities that haven’t seen new elementary construction in decades -- Stop 6, Eastern Hills and South Fort Worth.
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“We think it’s important that all students have the opportunity to experience a new state-of-the-art school. And, if we’re able to do that in those economically disadvantaged communities, we will also be able to build four new early childhood centers. So, that we can serve students ages 0 to 3 years old,” said Scribner.
There are critics of the billion-dollar proposal who question the focus on the district's physical infrastructure rather than improving low academic achievement.
Scribner said the proposed improvements will affect teaching and learning in a number of ways.
Sixty percent of the district’s schools were built before 1960 and a lot has changed since then.
“The last batch of reliable valid data prior to the pandemic actually showed a strong increase in our academics, and we do know that school facilities do have an impact on student achievement,” said Scribner. “Things like air quality, and lighting, and safe and secure buildings. Having students have pride and a positive self-belief. We think that when students walk into a high-quality building, they feel better about themselves.”
The last major bond election in the Fort Worth ISD was in 2017 for $750 million. It was passed by voters with a more than 70% approval rating.
The district has a full breakdown of the $1.5 billion dollar bond proposal on its website.