Mystery location of new Tanglewood school is revealed

Trustee Judy Needham represents District 5, which includes families who attend Tanglewood Elementary.
Trustee Judy Needham represents District 5, which includes families who attend Tanglewood Elementary.

Tracts of land owned by a Jewish congregation and a bank in southwest Fort Worth appear to be the pick for a new pre-kindergarten through fifth grade campus in the Tanglewood Elementary attendance zone.

Fort Worth school board members will discuss the property at a Monday meeting, Trustee Judy Needham said. The board is also expected to give final approval to a new ethics policy, according to a meeting agenda.

“We are voting Monday night to send final offer letters to Congregation Ahavath Sholom to buy vacant property to the west of their current school,” Needham said.

She said the district is also sending final offer letters to First Command Bank to purchase a 5.4 acres that is contiguous with the congregation’s land.

Needham said the district also wants to purchase 1.66 acres where a Frost Bank was previously located and the nearby Jewish Federation Building, which is about one-third of an acre.

The congregation’s land is 4.3 acres.

Needham declined to disclose the amount of the offers for the land.

Steven S. Brown, an attorney with Congregation Ahavath Sholom, declined to comment on the offer letter. But he said the congregation has planned to use that property for an assisted living community.

Needham said the district needs a minimum of seven acres for the new school and that the three tracts total 11.6 acres. The property is bounded by Briarhaven Road, Kingsridge Road, Firstcomm Plaza and Overton Plaza in southwest Fort Worth.

“We feel like the new Tanglewood school will be at one of these locations — which is an excellent location for the new Tanglewood,” Needham said.

New Tanglewood school

Locations of property FWISD is seeking to purchase for a new pre-kindergarten through Grade 5 Tanglewood relief school.

The estimated $28 million Tanglewood project was part of a record $750 million bond program approved by voters in November. With its passage, Superintendent Kent Scribner promised a “jackrabbit start” to projects detailed in the package, including $581 million in upgrades for 14 neighborhood high schools and about $40 million to relocate three specialized schools.

The bond allows $16 million for land purchases.

The land purchase item will be discussed in executive session under an action item for “final offers for potential sites for Tanglewood Elementary relief school.”

Negotiations over property are protected by state privacy laws.

Tanglewood’s overcrowding was the result of neighborhood growth. The school, built in 1960, has a capacity of 594 but served 870 last school year with help from seven portable buildings. Parents complained about long lunch lines and limited student opportunity for library visits.

During meetings with school leaders, parents stressed they want a solution that doesn’t ruin the neighborhood school feel of the community and doesn’t change the attendance zone.

“Everyone is anxious for the district to buy land so that a new school be designed this spring and we can break ground this summer,” said Needham, who represents District 5 that includes Tanglewood Elementary.

Tanglewood’s current attendance zone is bounded by South University Drive, Bellaire Drive South, Loop 820 and Bryant Irvin Road. A proposed map presented at town halls would divide the zone near the intersection of South Hulen Street and Bellaire Drive.

“As a board member representing a large number of the families whose children will be attending that school, I appreciate the dedication of our staff to providing it as expeditiously as possible,” said Trustee Ann Sutherland, who lives in District 6, which includes that portions of Tanglewood’s attendance zone.

In mid-January, the district will convene a Facilities Master Plan meeting to begin prioritizing projects.

The board will also vote on the second reading of an ethics policy that was the subject of controversy this fall. Trustees recently approved the first reading of policy that includes a $2,000 limit on campaign contributions from vendors, plus possible public censure for trustees who fail to comply with the rules.

Tobi Jackson, school board president, said she is eager to start the new year with board training and a timeline to implement the new ethics policy.

“We welcome and appreciate the feedback we’ve received from the community,” Jackson said.

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane A. Smith: 817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1

If you go

Special meeting of the Fort Worth school board

5:30 p.m. at the Fort Worth school district’s Board Complex, 2903 Shotts St., Fort Worth