Fort Worth school consultants identify $785 million for potential bond package

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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School trustees heard a report Monday evening that identified $755 million in potential construction projects plus $30 million in other projects that could be included in a bond package.

If the board decides to call a bond referendum, Fort Worth school district voters could be asked in November to approve the debt to pay for new schools, renovations and technology and security upgrades.

Officials outlined a tight timeline if trustees decide to go forward with an election Nov. 5. The school board is scheduled to vote Aug. 13 on whether to call the election. Town hall meetings to discuss the package with parents and taxpayers would be scheduled for October.

The report was prepared by consulting company AECOM, which was hired in November. The consultants looked at the district’s facilities, projections for enrollment growth and needs for academic programs.

If trustees decide to proceed, they will work to narrow the list of projects and set the final bond package amount. The school district will also consider the results of a community poll of voter opinion on a potential bond package, Superintendent Walter Dansby said.

“This is an analysis of what are the needs in Fort Worth ISD. We have to look at this,” Dansby said. “The board will decide how much we could go out to the community for.”

The possible construction-related projects include three elementary schools, a performing/fine arts academy building, a multipurpose event center, space for a science/technology/engineering/math academy and new classroom additions at elementary schools for pre-kindergarten students.

Other potential bond-package items are new school buses, new maintenance trucks, student uniforms and instruments, and classroom furniture and equipment.

The last Fort Worth school bond election was in November 2007, when voters approved a $593.6 million bond issue, including $551.9 million for new schools and for additions and renovations to existing schools and athletic facilities.

For that bond package, known as the Capital Improvement Program, the original needs assessment identified about $700 million in potential projects, which the district ultimately whittled down, Dansby said. AECOM was the program manager for the 2007 bond.

The city of Fort Worth is also looking at a bond program. The City Council is expected to call a $292 million bond election for May. The council and city administrators have worked on a project list for months, and 19 community meetings are scheduled for getting community input. The city staff is not expected to make a final recommendation until December, followed by more discussion by the City Council before a final vote on what projects to put on the ballot.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown

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