Fort Worth prepares for four new schools

FORT WORTH -- A new middle school opening in the Fort Worth district in 2011-12 would be an eighth-grade-only campus on the east side under a proposal discussed Thursday by school administrators.

The new school, one of four opening in 2011, would be for about 530 students.

"We lose a lot of our students at the eighth grade and ninth grade," Deputy Superintendent Pat Linares said. "Being able to provide a smaller learning environment for students at that grade will hopefully not only keep our students in schools but engaged."

Administrators gave members of an advisory committee an overview of their plans for the four new schools, which are part of the 2007 bond program now under way.

The schools would accommodate growth and overcrowding. Some adjustments may cause a domino effect, Linares said.

For example, John T. White Elementary School would be built on the east side to relieve overcrowding at Lowery Road, Meadowbrook and Sagamore Hill elementaries. The school would be made up mostly Lowery Road students with some from Eastern Hills Elementary.

Some students from Meadowbrook would move to Eastern Hills, and some from Sagamore Hill would move into Meadowbrook.

The proposed Benbrook Middle School's students would come from Leonard Middle School and the Leonard 6th Grade Center. The 6th Grade Center would no longer exist, and those students would attend Leonard Middle.

Other proposals

Forest Middle School would be for eighth-graders from Meadowbrook and Handley middle schools.

Rosemont Elementary School would be built adjacent to the middle school on West Seminary Drive. Under the proposed changes, it would get most of its students from Contreras, Seminary Hills Park and Wilson.

South Hills Elementary School was built for 542 students but has 918. An addition will be built to bring its capacity up to 760, but to further ease overcrowding, students east of Sandage Avenue would be rezoned to Seminary Hills Park.

Trustees have approved boundary adjustments for next school year but will consider one more, Linares said. The staff is recommending that the Sun Valley neighborhood in far southeast Fort Worth be rezoned to Green Elementary, less than a mile away. Students in that area are bused about 31/2 miles away to Sunrise-McMillian.

District officials are considering closing some small schools to better use district resources and funds. Trustees were to vote on the issue in February, but Linares told the committee members that the vote was delayed as the district first worked on boundary adjustments for the new schools.

Trustees are expected to vote on closings in September for implementation in 2011-12. Officials have said they must build schools while considering closing smaller ones because the under-utilized schools are not in the growth areas.

EVA-MARIE AYALA, 817-390-7700