Bond dollars are at work on a number of projects that are gaining momentum in Tarrant County.
The projects are aimed at improving schools and revitalizing neighborhoods.
In Arlington, the improvements are being funded by a $966 million bond that voters approved in November 2019.
On Wednesday, the district will break ground on one of those projects, the soon-to-be new and improved C. B. Berry Elementary School. It is one of four aging schools getting a total transformation in East Arlington.
“The excitement from our teachers, staff, students and parents is really joyous,” said Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD superintendent. “Because they know that a new facility is important in maximizing their opportunities.”
Last week, the district held another groundbreaking ceremony for Thornton Elementary School, which just like Berry, had a campus building pushing 70 years old. Both schools were torn down in the fall to make way for modern buildings fitting for the 21st century.
“At some point, the patchwork and the additions are enough and you have to start over,” said Cavazos. “At [Thornton’s] groundbreaking, teachers were just so excited at the fact that there will be additional plugs and outlets that they can actually access. When we think of just the fundamental things when we have a building that’s been around for over 60 years, some of the infrastructure and flow in the way it’s designed is just not meeting our needs.”
In April, Webb Elementary broke ground on a replacement facility. Construction began in the spring and much of the slab is now poured. It should be the first of the rebuilds to open in time for the next school year.
Carter Junior High School is being relocated and rebuilt to a site much closer to a majority of its population. That building will open in 2025 and is currently in the early stages of design.
Bond dollars also helped the Crow Leadership Academy in East Arlington to recently open a brand new classroom wing, gymnasium and kitchen.
In each of these rebuild projects, students and parents have actually been able to take part in the planning and designing process, talking directly to architects on what they want their school to look like.
“They have aspirations and dreams, and how it can yield better learning environments for them,” said Cavazos. “They’re so excited about their school, not only for them but for their siblings and the future students attending these schools.”
Aside from the rebuilds, this bond money is also upgrading safety, security, technology and programs for many other schools – even adding new playgrounds.
“It really is transformational across the district because we touch every school. Every school is impacted,” said Cavazos. “We know that facility improvement, expansion of facilities, and rebuilding schools that are aged in our district is really transformational because it provides that opportunity for students to really do their best work.”
In Arlington, students, teachers and staff have been housed in temporary facilities during the construction process. Thornton and Berry elementary schools are expected to be completed in 2023.
Fort Worth ISD is also moving forward on planning projects after a bond proposal was passed recently.
In November, Fort Worth voters approved part of the largest bond proposal in the Fort Worth Independent School District’s history, worth $1.5 billion.
Only one bond measure out of four passed, but narrowly.
Prop A, the largest at $1.2 billion, allocates money for the renovation of all the district middle schools, the construction of one new elementary school, and the complete renovation of three elementary campuses.
Part of that bond money will also help the district move forward with plans to establish four early learning centers across the city. The centers will be focused on areas lacking affordable and high-quality child care.