Fort Worth Chamber creates a PAC to support Fort Worth schools

Posted Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A political action committee called “Citizens Supporting Classroom Excellence” was formed by business leaders Thursday to support and endorse a proposed $490 million bond proposal for Fort Worth schools.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce filed paperwork with the Fort Worth school district that documents the creation of the specific-purpose committee. That committee will raise funds to help promote the proposed school bond, said Andra Bennett, spokeswoman for the chamber.

“We are just beginning our fund-raising efforts,” Bennett said, adding that they plan to map out strategies to best educate voters about the bond program’s specifics and how it will benefit the community.

Bennett said they are in the early stages of deciding how to get the word out, but plans will likely include direct mail campaigns, polling and printed materials. They will also likely tap into social media and email, she said.

Bennett said the proposed bond addresses a spectrum of educational issues that businesses look for when considering whether to support the initiative.

Businesses look for a mix that includes skilled labor and higher education, she said. The proposed bond addresses these needs, she said.

“We need that diversity in our workforce,” Bennett said.

The specific-purpose committee names banker Mark Nurdin as its campaign treasurer. The paperwork was filed with the Fort Worth school district Thursday morning.

Nurdin’s primary role will be to oversee fund raising and to make sure campaign reports are filed accurately and on time, Bennett said.

No contributions were reported in the paperwork.

Judy Needham, the trustee representing FWISD’s District 5, said the specific-purpose committee’s creation is a good sign for the proposed bond.

“I am thrilled that the chamber is going to raise money and support this bond issue that will benefit our kids so much,” Needham said.

Needham said the bond proposal has been fine tuned since it was originally unveiled July 29.

“It’s been pared down,” Needham said. “Now, the bond includes the essential things for our schools and kids.”

School board members are expected Friday to vote on taking the bond package to voters in a Nov. 5 election. The proposal includes three propositions that will total about $490 million. A special meeting is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

District 6 Trustee Ann Sutherland praised the latest proposal.

“After a slow start, the staff and AECOM have done a wonderful job of clearing up questions and presenting three plans, one of which is minimal and provides the resources we need at the lowest possible cost, at one cent on the tax rate,” Sutherland said. “I hope the community will come together behind these needed new facilities.”

The three proposals include:

• A $386.5 million ‘base proposition’ that includes a new high school in Benbrook, classroom additions, kitchen/dining room projects, security and technology improvements, universal pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, new field houses at 13 high schools and renovations to some career technology programs and specialized Gold Seal Programs of Choice.

The proposal includes a 20 classroom addition at Paschal High School that would accommodate 500 additional students, an eight classroom addition at McLean Sixth to handle 200 more students and 14 classroom additions at Tanglewood Elementary that would handle 300 additional students.

• Spending $73.3 million to build two campuses for grades six through 12, one for a performing and fine arts academy and another for a science, technology, engineering and math academy.

• $30 million for non-construction projects such as new buses and maintenance trucks, student uniforms and instruments.

A specific-purpose committee is typically set up to support a single issue, according to the state. These committees must comply with state political reporting rules.

Details of the various propositions also were posted on the district’s website Thursday.

Reporter Jessamy Brown contributed to this report.

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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