Dansby says Fort Worth school bond vote won’t be next week

Posted Friday, Aug. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
More information Tanglewood Elementary School Opened: 1960 Site: 3060 Overton Park Drive West, Fort Worth Enrollment: 771 in kindergarten through grade 5. Capacity is 588. Students feed to McLean Sixth Grade Center, McLean Middle School and Paschal High School State 2013 academic accountability rating: Met standard Sources: Fort Worth schools, Texas Education Agency, Templeton Demographics

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School Superintendent Walter Dansby told an “emergency” meeting of the Tanglewood Neighborhood Association Thursday night that a proposed November bond referendum won’t include a proposal for a new elementary school for the area.

Dansby said that a proposal to move students from Tanglewood Elementary to a new campus across South Hulen Street, and to turn the existing campus into a sixth grade center, is “off the table.”

He also said trustees won’t vote on a proposed school bond package at Tuesday’s meeting as previously expected.

On July 29, trustees heard a report from consultants that identified $755 million in construction projects plus $30 million in other projects for a new bond program. The school board has until Aug. 26 to decide whether to put a bond package on the Nov. 5 ballot. If that deadline passes, the next election would be in May.

What brought the crowd out Thursday night was a proposal to move Tanglewood Elementary students to a new campus west of South Hulen Street in the Riverhills development to relieve overcrowding at the 52-year-old school on Overton Park Drive.

McLean Sixth Grade Center students would move to the existing Tanglewood Elementary campus. McLean Sixth’s campus would become a pre-kindergarten center.

The emergency meeting was called by the neighborhood association to meet with district officials and trustees when residents learned about the proposal to move elementary students.

The elementary school auditorium, which seats about 300, was filled, and the overflow audience was put in the cafeteria.

Dansby said overcrowding at the campus can be handled by building an addition to the existing campus on Overton Park Drive, although attendance boundaries may need to change after five years to handle enrollment growth, Dansby said.

Speakers complained that the bond proposal seemed to have emerged at the “last minute.”

Some speakers said they will not vote for any bond package unless communication from district officials improves. Others asked for trustees to postpone the referendum for a year to gather more community input.

“You needed to go out to all of the communities in Fort Worth ISD. When you did something in secret and then you spring it onto the community, this is the result,” said Ann Mecklenburger. “I think you all need to think about doing this bond a year from now.”

After the meeting, Lynn Kelly said she appreciated the superintendent and trustees’ willingness to meet with residents.

“I do think there seems to be quite a bit of miscommunication and misperception and a lot of parents are frightened,” she said. “I think adding on to the campus makes sense.”

Principal Connie Smith said no new transfer students will be accepted for the upcoming school year to Tanglewood. Administrators plan to closely check family documentation to make sure students live in the attendance zone.

Demographer Bob Templeton told the crowd that growth projections show that Tanglewood will be short by 284 slots by 2018 and 415 by 2023.

Several schools and city officials were in attendance at the meeting, including Mayor Betsy Price, who lives in Tanglewood. She said she has not taken a position on the district’s potential bond package.

A bond package would likely be split into separate propositions to give voters a choice of what to support, Dansby said in a brief interview.

The school board plans to meet in a work session on Aug. 12 to consider what projects could go into a bond package.

Trustee Judy Needham, whose district includes Tanglewood, said she wants to cut the bond package total “way down,” perhaps in half. She also said she does not support changing Tanglewood Elementary boundaries at this time.

Board President Christene Moss said the bond proposals are “not set in stone. I’m waiting to hear from all of the communities. And that is what we will do”

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

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