Fort Worth ISD pushed back the opening date for a new elementary school in Benbrook — again.
Water supply issues keep postponing the opening of Rolling Hills Elementary, trustee Michael Ryan, who represents Benbrook on the school board, told the Fort Worth Report. The district is now looking at opening the school after Thanksgiving.
This marks the second time the district has delayed Rolling Hills’ first day of classes. The school was slated to be ready at the start of the 2023-24 academic year, then the opening was delayed to October.
Construction for the school, located at the corner of Jerry Dunn Parkway and Green Links Drive, is “99% complete,” as workers are touching up paint, installing baseboards and placing furniture, Ryan said.
Rolling Hills Elementary is the first project in Fort Worth ISD’s $1.2 billion bond from 2021.
How many students does each Fort Worth ISD elementary school have in Benbrook?
- Rolling Hills Elementary School: 411 students
- Westpark Elementary School: 372 students
- Benbrook Elementary School: 473 students
- Source: Mike Naughton, Fort Worth ISD’s executive director of facilities planning and operations, and Texas Education Agency
Building the school on a tight deadline was the main reason why administrators declined to seek more applicants to manage the bond. Procedeo, a Fort-Worth based construction management company, was the sole bidder.
Once complete, the two-story, 120,000-square-foot Rolling Hills Elementary will be Fort Worth ISD’s biggest elementary school, according to an open record obtained by the Report. The campus can accommodate 1,000 students, although the school will open with about 400, the district previously told the Report.
The school is waiting for all the equipment needed to build pressure for the water system, Ryan said. Rolling Hills Elementary has enough water for construction but not enough for daily operations.
Once the water system is installed, the city of Fort Worth will have up to 90 days for inspection. Ryan said he has received assurances from the offices of Mayor Mattie Parker, Councilman Michael Crain and City Hall that Rolling Hills is a top priority.
Students at Rolling Hills Elementary currently attend either Westpark Elementary — which is 1.1 miles away — or Benbrook Elementary — which is 3.6 miles away.
Benbrook resident Susan Wade’s grandson is attending Westpark Elementary while waiting for Rolling Hills Elementary to open. The delayed opening doesn’t concern the family much because Rolling Hills still has school pride days, and they live closer to Westpark.
The family also expected the delay from the beginning, Wade said.
“They shouldn’t have promised anything. That’s the only thing,” she said.
Principals at Westpark Elementary and Rolling Hills Elementary have worked together to prepare the move-over process for teachers, which Ryan expected to take place over one weekend.
“It's a top quality project that I think everybody in the area will be proud of when we get it open and get it going,” he said.
Dang Le is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.