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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Fort Worth ISD calls for $750M bond vote for November

A $750 million bond package approved by the Fort Worth Independent School District board of trustees on Monday calls for a new elementary school for the Tanglewood area, upgrades at 13 high schools and a new building for the young men’s leadership academy.

“The District is expected to approach 90,000 students by 2020, and this current bond program addresses both our growth needs (new schools & classrooms) and a critically needed educational upgrade for our high schools,” said Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner.

The bond package would not require a tax increase because of increases in property values, according to Fort Worth ISD officials. The bond election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 7, with early voting beginning Oct. 23 and running through Nov. 3.

The proposed $750 million bond program was developed by a Long Range Facilities Master Plan advisory group made up of educators, parents, and community leaders. The group met over a period of six months and looked at what FWISD schools needed to meet the demands of a 21st century workplace.

Along with the bond package, voters will also be asked to approve a “Penny Swap” tax rate authorization. The school funding formula penny swap would allow the school district to receive an additional $23 million annually in state funding and would enable FWISD to launch its proposed bond improvement program with no increase in the current school tax rate.

Currently the district’s total tax rate is $1.352 per $100 of assessed property evaluation. The total tax rate is made up of two components – a $1.04 rate used for Maintenance and Operations (M&O – basically, everyday needs) and a $0.312 Principal & Interest (P&I) rate used to pay outstanding debt. Together those taxes equal the district’s total tax rate of $1.352. The Penny Swap authorization election will ask voters to increase the M&O tax rate by two cents and then lower its P&I rate by two cents, resulting in the current tax rate being unchanged, according to the Fort Worth ISD.

“Our commitment is to have all FWISD graduates be college-and-career ready,” said Scribner. “These two propositions would enable us to maximize state funding which in turn allows us to present a neutral tax rate bond solution.”

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