Growing Fort Worth all-girls school plans to move downtown

Posted Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Fort Worth school district's Young Women's Leadership Academy, an all-female school that opened in 2010, is already considered an academic success story. Now it has room to grow, though in a new location.

Tarrant County commissioners voted Tuesday to sell the school district a downtown building for $4.5 million. The academy, which started with sixth- and seventh-graders, will have space to add a grade each year to become a middle and high school with a capacity of 525 students.

The school is now on West Magnolia Avenue, an area on the southern end of Fort Worth's hospital district that's become a trendy restaurant corridor. The new building is at Eighth and Jones streets on the southeastern part of downtown.

The commissioners split 3-2, with County Judge Glen Whitley raising a concern that the school would be too close to the Intermodal Transportation Center, about a block away. He said people who are under court supervision (such as sex offenders) and have restrictions on where they can go might not be able to use the transit facility because of its proximity to the school.

Whitley and Commissioner Gary Fickes voted against the sale.

In a telephone interview, Jim Sinclair, assistant director of the county's Community Supervision and Corrections Department, said that each probation case is different but that most have "child safety zones" set by a judge. If those travel restrictions interfere with a job, the probationer could ask the court for an exception.

That suggests a probationer could, if needed, get a judge's permission to use public transit services from the ITC regardless of the nearby school.

School officials said that Fort Worth has a safe downtown and that the new campus will have state-of-the-art security and an assigned police officer. The location is also within three blocks of the Fort Worth Police Department's Central Division Headquarters.

The downtown site's proximity to businesses, government offices, cultural sites and higher education centers will give students educational opportunities such as field trips within walking distance. The school is open to female students from all over the district, so a central location near the transit center makes it convenient.

The new campus is expected to be ready for operation in the fall after a $5.8 million renovation.

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