Fort Worth schools superintendent says top issue is to increase student achievement

Posted Friday, Oct. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
Fort Worth bond tax The three propositions are projected to add up to 3 cents to the tax rate, costing $30 more per year for a $115,599 home with a $15,000 homestead exemption, the value of an average home in the district. Proposition 1 would add about 1 cent to the tax rate, costing $10 more per year. Proposition 2 would add an additional 1.25 cents to the tax rate. Proposition 3 would add an additional 0.75 cent to the tax rate. The current tax rate is $1.322, with $1.04 for operations and 28 cents for debt repayment. Source: Fort Worth school district

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Improving student achievement and enhancing educational opportunities in Fort Worth schools rank high among goals outlined by Superintendent Walter Dansby.

Dansby addressed dozens of business leaders Thursday during an Annual State of Education Luncheon hosted by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. He said the work to build strong urban schools continues and includes projects that make up a $490 million bond package that voters will decide on Nov. 5.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Dansby told business leaders at Fort Worth’s Colonial Country Club.

Dansby showcased a vision that includes efforts to make gains in student performance. The Fort Worth school district received a passing mark from the state earlier this year under a new accountability system. The district is rated “met standard,” but more work is needed, Dansby said.

While many campuses in the district passed and even gained distinctions, 28 schools in the Fort Worth district were listed with a “improvement required” rating.

Dansby said they have conducted a curriculum audit and have realigned resources, programs and personnel to improve ratings.

He said district leaders worked to craft a strategic plan with a mission of preparing students, “for success in college, career and community leadership.” He also touted the district’s growing schools-of-choice programs and promised new programs are in the plans.

Dansby said plans are underway for new high school choice programs in urban development and retail entrepreneurship.

Dansby segued into the upcoming schools bond election by promising to implement a sound program. He told the audience to consider the entire package, which is made up of three propositions.

“It’s not one,” Dansby said. “It’s not two. It’s not three, but all three.”

The bond program earmarks money for universal preschool, new classrooms, new technology, security upgrades, two magnet schools and replacement of aging buses.

Chamber leaders urged audience members to donate to their political action committee. Mayor Betsy Price also asked people to support the bond program.

“Help our schools get this bond,” Price said. “Let’s help our chamber help the school district.”

Susan Halsey, chairman of the chamber’s board, said they are working to gain support for the bond at a time when many question government debt or are still stinging from the federal shutdown.

Halsey said they are trying to tell people the bond is an investment in the future.

“If we want to continue to be a magnet for excellence in Fort Worth — a place where giant companies want to be — we’ve got to invest in our public education system in order to produce talented and skilled workers. I think it is just critical to our economy that we do that,” Halsey said.

Halsey counters worries that Fort Worth schools will incur too much debt, by telling people that schools are a good place to spend money and this bond is a “reasonable package.”

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

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