Crowded Paschal-area schools bring dollars, but also strain patience

Posted Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy Tanglewood Elementary is not a country club.

Neither is Paschal High School.

This is a point of confusion in Tanglewood, where some residents want a special crackdown on residency rules to force more children out of those schools, and McLean Sixth and Middle, on short notice.

Transfer student?

You might be next.

The same residents want more transfer students turned away, too, making all four schools smaller and more exclusive — even if students and the accompanying tax dollars leave the district.

The pull-up-the-drawbridge debate about the size and tremendous popularity of Paschal-area schools reaches the school board Tuesday, when trustees will consider a new, tougher parent-ID policy requiring double proof and accepting only a permanent address.

If you’re a parent or guardian, start digging for your last county property tax bill. If the policy changes, you’ll need that or a signed lease plus a utility bill to get your child back into school.

Tanglewood Principal Connie Smith acknowledged Friday that the policy is not yet in force and she should not have emailed parents on Aug. 1 demanding new proof.

It was Tanglewood where a June petition by “PHS Pyramid Parents” called for even more draconian rules, demanding triple proof of residency and official home checks, followed by the sudden expulsion of non-compliant children, no matter how long they had attended the exemplary-rated school.

According to an online check of other districts, the proposed new policy is the same currently enforced in Highland Park.

One of the residents leading the petition drive declined to comment and declined to name others.

In comments by some of the 500-plus signers, residents complain of others “cheating the system” and “fraudulent” enrollment.

“We pay a premium to live in this [Paschal] district,” one parent wrote, “and feel that we are being taken advantage of.”

Another wrote, “Keep this area for our children only.”

Consistently among the district’s top-rated elementary schools, Tanglewood is crammed with 771 children and will grow past 1,000 within 10 years, according to projections given Thursday at a neighborhood meeting on proposed construction or expansion.

About 50 students will return this year on transfers, Smith said, adding that she believes only a few other children list Tanglewood addresses but actually live outside the zone.

Many Fort Worth schools are crowded. Two elementary schools in east Fort Worth, Clifford Davis Elementary and John T. White, are more overcrowded than Tanglewood.

Paschal, which has a special Scholars Program and other school-choice programs marketed to transfers and tuition students, is considered the district’s most overcrowded school. Yet the total of 2,646 students is less than the 3,000 of long ago.

With a long list of National Merit Scholars, Paschal has become the city’s showpiece high school. About 40 percent of Paschal’s ninth-graders are transfers who live in another attendance zone or even another city, Superintendent Walter Dansby said last week.

If they can’t share Paschal-area schools, those students and dollars will be lost to one of the open-enrollment suburban districts, a charter school or a private school.

The neighborhood has its price.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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