Where will you be in 20 years? In 30 years? Many of us will be well into retirement. Some of you will be just ending your working careers. As we move into those new chapters of our lives, whom will we have left in charge of our communities, of our country and, yes, even the world? The answer to that question is eye-opening. The students who are currently in the pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and early elementary grades of the Fort Worth ISD will be among those to whom we will have turned over the keys to the store. Do I have your attention now?
I hope so because we have a precious amount of time to prepare those youngsters to be responsible citizens, capable of critical thinking and decision-making, able to thrive in a multi-cultural, digitally-connected village. Look at your child or grandchild right now and think about that. Yes, we have a big job ahead of us. Partnering with families, the Fort Worth ISD must do all it can do to lay the critical groundwork in the educational lives of tens of thousands of children. Our mission is to prepare all students for success in college, career and community leadership. It is for that very specific reason that we are presenting a $489.9 million bond package to voters on Nov. 5.
As a concerned parent or grandparent and as a business leader, you need to understand exactly what this proposal includes. Our trustees grouped this bond proposal into three propositions in order to make them more understandable. It’s one and two and three – not choose one. All three propositions represent significant support to ease overcrowding, provide technology and keep pace with the educational needs of our children.
• Proposition 1 includes district-wide security and technology upgrades at every school, district-wide pre-kindergarten, nearly 300 classroom additions, new kitchens and school cafeterias, two new elementary schools and renovations to bring facilities into compliance with accessibility standards.
• Proposition 2 provides funding for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy and a Performing and Fine Arts Academy.
• Proposition 3 is reserved for non-construction items that require periodic refreshing such as school buses, musical instruments and uniforms, furniture and fixtures.
If all three propositions are approved, the projected increase to taxes on a $115,000 home (average home in Fort Worth ISD) is approximately $2.50 per month. Our last Capital Improvement Program in 2007 was under budget and ahead of schedule and we plan to bring those same results to this new one. I encourage you to attend one or more of the many town hall meetings so we can have the opportunity to explain the bond package to you. You can also check out our website at www.fwisd.org and click on the featured area that says Commitment to Classrooms or 2013 Bond Election. Now, the decision is yours. We can equip our children with the tools, the knowledge and the curiosity of lifelong learners required to be the caretakers of our world as well as its innovators, entrepreneurs, transformers and leaders. Please, don’t overlook the opportunity to make your voice heard on this extremely important matter. Early voting will run from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1. Election Day is Nov. 5. We can’t afford not to provide for the future of our children.
Walter Dansby is superintendent of the Fort Worth Independent School District