Fort Worth ISD will spend the next few months examining its schools from top to bottom.
The evaluation is part of a more than $2 million effort to create a facility master plan. Officials say the plan is needed to determine the long-range use of campuses. Alabama-based Hoar Program Management is assembling the plan, which is being funded through the 2021 bond.
The district needs the plan, in part, because Fort Worth ISD’s elementary schools have not been assessed in nearly a decade, said Mike Naughton, executive director of facilities planning and operations.
“We want to go in there and look at everything from the condition of the air conditioning to the lighting, to the plumbing, to the flooring as well as things like, does the science lab have an eyewash that’s working?” Naughton told the Fort Worth Report. “We also want to look at what’s missing from the school to make sure that it has what it needs to meet the education goals of the district.”
Naughton expects Hoar Program Management to present its preliminary findings in early spring. Administration and the school board likely won’t make any decisions until after that initial report, he said.
One possible decision would be shuffling projects from the $1.2 billion bond that voters approved in 2021. For example, the bond’s 17 middle school improvement projects may be expedited, according to a district spokesperson.
Enrollment decline is playing a major role in how Fort Worth ISD uses its schools.
Estimates show the district has 70,675 students. If that number holds by official count day Oct. 27, Fort Worth ISD will have lost 16,753 students since 2016, when enrollment hit a record 87,428 students.
In September, the school board agreed to study how shrinking enrollment has affected the district’s 122 campuses — setting up the likely closure of schools. Trustees also approved the contract with Hoar.
“People are concerned because nobody wants schools in their area to be closed. That’s where there is a little anxiety,” trustee Wallace Bridges previously told the Report.
Recommendations from the master plan, such as closing campuses, will be presented to the community, Naughton said.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.