Seven Local Public Schools Face Consolidation

Fort Worth ISD administrative building | Image by NBC 5 DFW

After paying for a capacity study of district campuses and facilities, Fort Worth ISD officials have begun revealing plans to consolidate schools — including one that would impact seven middle schools.

Over the past few weeks, several community listening sessions have been held to discuss the possibility of combining McLean 6th Grade, McLean Middle School, and Daggett Middle School into a single campus, J.P. Elder and Kirkpatrick Middle Schools into a single campus, and William James and Morningside Middle schools into a single campus. A finalized proposal will go before the board on May 28, although the consolidation won’t move forward until the 2027-2028 school year.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Fort Worth ISD has already announced two school closures ahead of next term in light of steadily declining student enrollment figures. Much like neighboring district Dallas ISD, parents of students and other stakeholders have raised the alarm over lackluster academic results and more these past few years. 

The latest TEA accountability reports for both districts found that their student achievement scores fell well below statewide averages. Only 41% of Dallas ISD students scored at grade level in the 2021-2022 school year, and almost 20% of the graduating Class of 2022 did not graduate on time. That same year, 32% of Fort Worth ISD students passed at grade level on their STAAR exams, while 85.7% of seniors obtained a diploma within four years.

Due to these difficulties and growing competition from charter schools, the student body at Fort Worth ISD dropped from 87,233 enrollees in 2016 to 72,782 in 2023, contributing to what was reported earlier this year to be a $43.6 million deficit in the district’s budget.

Fort Worth ISD officials commissioned a $2 million study last year to help rightsize the district and orient decisions, such as campus closures and staff cuts, to save costs. Early on, the campuses on the chopping block were said to be those at 70% capacity — roughly four dozen.

The consolidation efforts will be funded through the 2021 bond package approved by voters, valued at $1.2 billion. The middle schools named in the latest proposal from district officials had been slated for several refreshes and upgrades in the bond, the funds for which would be reallocated to the consolidation plan.

While Kellie Spencer, Fort Worth ISD deputy superintendent of operations, told attendees at a meeting on April 11 that the consolidation plan aimed at ensuring taxpayer dollars were well spent, some community members voiced their concerns and even staunch resistance, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

For instance, Kyev Tatum, pastor at New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church, said he was “adamantly and vehemently opposed” to the closing of Morningside Middle School. He likened the busing it would require to the time when schools were segregated, questioning why “kids [would have to] get up in the morning, having to travel across town into a foreign land to get an education when you have schools in your community,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

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