Tanglewood Elementary overcrowding draws vocal audience
Fort Worth ISD broke ground Thursday for Overton Park Elementary, a school the board hopes will relieve overcrowding at Tanglewood Elementary and allow the schools to offer pre-kindergarten classes. The school is expected to open in August 2020.
More than 200 people were in attendance as Tanglewood Elementary Principal Connie Smith, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent Scribner and members of the Board of Trustees spoke of their excitement as the new step toward opening the school.
Scribner said Tanglewood’s success despite overcrowding made the project even more exciting.
“Now we’re going to have two high quality schools serving this community: Overton Park Elementary and Tanglewood Elementary,” Scribner said.
The new school is one of the projects funded by the 2017 capital improvements bond approved by voters. $25 million of the $750 million bond is expected to go into the construction according to a press release, $3 million less than previously estimated.
Smith, the principal at Tanglewood Elementary, reaffirmed plans to open Overton Park by August next year.
The school will offer four classrooms per grade, from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, with the ability to educate 550 students at a time. It will include spaces dedicated to art, music, physical education and science.
Fort Worth ISD’s push to open up free pre-kindergarten education to the whole community, whether they qualify for financial assistance or not, will also benefit from the new school, Scribner said.
“Parents in the Tanglewood community are unable to benefit from pre-k because of the overcrowding,” Scribner said. “As we know, an early childhood education is the most important foundation for educational success in years to come.”
Chase Blackmon and his wife, Sally Blackmon moved to the Tanglewood community so their two sons, Graham and Reid, could get the best education possible.
Graham is already a student at Tanglewood, but 3-year-old Reid’s first school will be Overton Park, Sally Blackmon said.
“Our children will have a better opportunity to learn,” Sally Blackmon said. “They’ll be in a smaller classroom environment.”
She said she’s pleased that parents and educators were both involved throughout the planning process.
“We moved into this area two and a half years ago to go to Tanglewood because it’s such a good school,” Chase Blackmon said. “We were pretty darn sure they were going to start a new campus. That’s exciting to us.”
New campuses mean state-of-the-art equipment, newer designs and the newest tools available to educators, Chase Blackmon said, and his kids will be able to get the best education possible there.
“The old Tanglewood is great,” Chase Blackmon said. “It just can feel a little congested because of the way it was designed. It was added on here, added on there. This one will be laid out great from the beginning, hopefully.”
Scribner said community collaboration was especially important in determining who would go to which school.
“It was suggested that it would be impossible to change the boundaries in this community, but through collaboration, through listening, learning then leading, we were able to create a solution that benefits everyone,” Scribner said.
Jim Motheral and Red Goldstein, lifetime Fort Worth residents and members of the first group of students to attend Tanglewood Elementary in 1960, shoveled sand placed at the site for the event with future Overton Park Elementary students after the official groundbreaking.
Motheral was in kindergarten and Goldstein was in first grade when the school opened, so they stood next to boys who would be attended Overton in those grades, picking up the spongy sand with a golden shovel and throwing it aside.
Goldstein remembers riding his bike to Tanglewood Elementary on his first day there, so he did the same to get to the future sight of Overton Park.
He said the Tanglewood area has gone through a massive transformation since he was a kid.
“Back in those days people would actually ride their horses to school,” Goldstein said. “Tanglewood was just like a finger poking into the ranch that was here. I remember looking out the window to see the cows. I even fed the cows sometimes.”