For Fort Worth school district, new schools, new cafeterias and help for 4-year-olds

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy A Polytechnic High School student reporter had one very important question for the winning superintendent Tuesday night.

“Mr. Dansby, just one one more thing,” senior Maria Delgado told Superintendent Walter Dansby.

“We need new buses,” Delgado pleaded, turning from radio journalist back into schoolgirl.

“Our bus has broken down lots and lots of times,” she said with her best please-please-please pouty look, “and I’m really scared.”

With $490 million in bonds passing by an early 3-to-1 margin, Dansby could smile.

“OK!” he said, grinning at district officials and business leaders watching at the district’s student TV-radio station on McCart Avenue.

Fort Worth’s schools aren’t shiny or new.

But in a district with an enrollment expected to push 90,000 by 2020, a few more students won’t be left stranded.

Bond proposals that originally seemed iffy eased to victory, partly because Benbrook voters wanted a new high school and voters districtwide generally liked the idea of adding an arts magnet middle-high school and replacing 1950s school cafeterias.

“People were ecstatic about the new school,” west-side Trustee Norman Robbins said.

“I think we’ve proven we can run an efficient program. The voters have confidence.”

Part of that confidence can be credited to Dansby.

The former Dunbar High School champion high jumper is in his 40th year in the district. He knows every loose brick and leaky roof.

Two weeks from his 63rd birthday, he was happiest Tuesday for children just turning 4.

“It all starts with the pre-K [prekindergarten] next year,” he said, referring to the new funding for more early-childhood classes.

“We asked student leaders the other day how many went to prekindergarten. Every single one held up their hand.”

Dansby said he learned colors, counting and words “at my mama’s knee.” For him, there was no kindergarten at what is now Logan Elementary.

But Robbins said: “Pre-K is as important now as college.

“If we don’t reach a kid early, they’re not able to grow.”

That new generation will bring new growing pains.

But fewer breakdowns.

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

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