There’s always something big going on in the Northwest school district, and the opening of the 2014-15 school year is no exception.
"We have a lot of things that we’re excited about," said Emily Conklin, the district’s communications director.
One of the biggest things is growth. Northwest campuses welcomed an estimated 20,147 students for the first day of classes Tuesday. Based on growth in the district’s communities, that number should continue to skyrocket in coming years. Enrollment is projected to rise by another 10,000 students over the next seven years.
"We’re going to keep growing," Conklin said.
To accommodate that rising enrollment, Northwest is busy constructing the district’s third comprehensive high school. Eaton, located in the Haslet/north Fort Worth area, will welcome freshmen and sophomores when its doors open in August 2015.
No new campuses are debuting this fall, but Northwest this week debuted two expanded elementary campuses. Renovations to Beck Elementary in Trophy Club added an additional 8,000 square feet. The added space includes an expanded cafeteria and kitchen, additional art and music spaces and two new classroom spaces that can be used for a variety of activities.
Another campus that received a major renovation was Peterson Elementary in north Fort Worth. An additional 14,000 square feet were added, including six new classrooms, an expanded cafeteria and gym and additional art and music rooms.
Peterson, Beck and the district’s 15 other elementaries all will have something new this semester: extra incentive for students to eat healthy. A new food service program is putting a free vegetable and fruit bar each elementary campus. Students can have one free fruit and one free vegetable serving each day. The food service website will post the monthly fruit and vegetable bar menu.
Another free-of-charge feature in Northwest is the Dell Latitude tablet – each of the more than 8,000 secondary students was issued one of these top-of-the-line tablets. This is the first year middle school students received a tablet. Last school year, the high school students got a tablet while middle school students received a notebook computer.
The digitally-conscious district has also rolled out a mobile-friendly upgrade to its web site. Previously, mobile device users had to try to navigate a version of the site that was exactly the same as the desktop computer site. Now, smart phones and tablets bring up a mobile friendly page with easy navigation and easily accessible links, Conklin said.
The district also has launched a Community Dashboard page that provides community members with a quick rundown of demographics and a variety of accountability measures charting student and school district success.
"Nobody else has this kind of dashboard like we do," Conklin said. "It was a response to what the community wanted to see."
Northwest also has rolled out an automated online volunteer sign up system that can match volunteers with campuses and opportunities matching the volunteers’ interest. Conklin said the district had more than 8,000 volunteers last school year.