Bond Election 101: New FWISD Academies?

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The upcoming bond election calls for voters to approve a loan of $73.3 million for FWISD to build both a Performing and Fine Arts Academy and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (S.T.E.M) Academy.

Michael Sorum, Deputy Superintendent of FWISD, said these academies would be beneficial to Fort Worth’s already vibrant support of the arts, and contribute to the national need of developing our student’s science and math skills.

Sorum said that although the locations have yet to be determined, voters could expect the academies to be located at a central site within the district.

Each academy (grades 6-12) would accept about 600 students from across the district.

Students admitted would  “show natural aptitude for a specific fine art or S.T.E.M. subject, with parents who are very committed to their child’s education and acceleration through their specific area of study,” Sorum said.

Many FWISD schools are concerned that these academies may take away from their current programs, but Sorum assured they wouldn’t.

“If you do the math, each school accepts 600 students; this is only 100 students per grade,” Sorum said. “We have 84 elementary schools in our district, so that’s about one student per school. We continue to be committed to our school’s current programs.”

If approved, students accepted into these academies should be mindful that they would not be attending a traditional school.

The academies would have a P.E. facility and intramural sports, however they would have limited extracurricular activities, meaning no UIL sports or events.

Students in the academies would still be required to pass state mandated testing such as the STAR Test.

“Seven years ago, the school district made a commitment to fund an art and music program for every elementary school, so a fine arts academy is a part of the natural evolution of us extending that commitment,” Sorum said. “And by proposing a S.T.E.M. academy, we hope to put forth effort in aiding the national need for students with advanced math skills.”

Early voting for this proposal and others begins Oct. 21 and Election Day is Nov. 5.

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