Fort Worth Schools holding $490 million vote

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The Fort Worth school board is asking voters to approve a $490 million bond issue on the Nov. 5 ballot. A Town Hall meeting on the bond is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday Oct. 9, at Paschal High School.

Fort Worth school officials are hoping voters agree to borrow $490 million to update technology in the classroom, increase on campus security measures and improve outdated schools.

If approved by voters, the bond would mean a tax hike of about 3 cents per $100. The district estimated that this would result in a $30 increase in the tax bill for a home with an assessed value of $115,000.

Early voting is Oct. 21-Nov. 1; Election Day is Nov. 5.

The bond package is comprised of three separate propositions, so voters can choose all or part of the spending plan.

·      Proposition 1: $386 million to upgrade security and technology district wide, establish district wide pre-kindergartens, increase the number of classrooms at existing schools, create Wi-Fi study halls, new kitchens and cafeterias, and new field houses for every high school.

·      Proposition 2: $73.3 million to build a Performing and Fine Arts Academy and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M.) Academy, both would be open to any student in the district.

·      Proposition 3: $30 million would be used for periodic maintenance on things, such as school buses, musical instruments and uniforms, as well as, various classroom furniture and fixtures.

FWISD trustee, Judy Needham, who represents District 5, which includes the 109, said proposition one would have the biggest impact on neighborhood schools. Tanglewood Elementary, Westcliff Elementary, McLean 6, McLean Middle School and Paschal High School would all share in the money if voters approve.

Needham said all five schools would benefit from the much needed expansions. “Many of their classrooms are overcrowded. Tanglewood’s, McLean 6’s and Paschal’s kitchens are out of date, and Paschal’s field house is way too small and very old,” said Needham.

The bond calls for:

Tanglewood to get 14 classrooms and a kitchen.

McLean 6 would get 8 classrooms and a kitchen.

McLean would get 12 classrooms.

Paschal would get 20 classrooms, a kitchen and a field house.

Each school would also receive updated safety and security measures.

Needham said this includes an access control surveillance system at the schools’ main entrances that require visitors to be buzzed in by the front office. Once the visitors are allowed in, their driver’s licenses would be scanned for a background check before entry beyond the front office is allowed.

The bond also includes money for technology upgrades. This includes updated electronics such as classroom computers, servers and printers.

“We intend to refresh our student’s technology every five to six years so they can remain competitive in a technology dominated world,” said Needham.

Although not included specifically in the bond details, Needham said the district might look into providing all high school students with iPads. Students would be expected to use these during school hours, corresponding to specific classes, and would be allowed to take them home.

“Our main goals with this bond is to improve learning facilities so that our children can get the best education, which is very important to me,” said Needham.

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