Fort Worth ISD teachers have been nothing short of heroic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They are public servants in the fullest sense of these hallowed terms. Under the most stressful conditions imaginable, teachers adjusted creatively and quickly to provide online instruction. They adapted, innovated, explored, experimented, and implemented new strategies and methodologies to instruct our children.
As the pandemic worsened, teachers went the extra mile, checking on the health and safety of children and often providing for students’ needs out of their own pockets. Fort Worth professional educators served as angels of mercy, especially for our poorest, most vulnerable children. Eighty-six percent of students in the district are economically disadvantaged. For many, their lifeline is their neighborhood public school.
Now, the families of the Fort Worth ISD can show teachers we have their back. We can send a much-needed message of support and solidarity to them, putting our words into action, by approving all four propositions in the 2021 school bond package.
The package is the result of years of detailed planning and careful community input. An advisory committee of educators, parents and business leaders spent more than five years assessing our facility needs. Our elected school board held thoughtful, thorough deliberations.
This thorough due diligence is one reason why the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce all endorse this bond.
Why now? With bond rates at historic lows, Fort Worth can save millions of dollars by improving our children’s neighborhood schools now instead of waiting. Furthermore, this bond will not result in a property tax rate increase for homeowners and businesses.
It is imperative that we provide our educators with the tools and facilities they need to best prepare the next generation of community leaders. The bond package will help our hard-working teachers across the district continue to provide quality programs at every grade level. This includes improving every part of the district with additional classroom space, renovations to aging middle schools, and a new elementary school.
By voting yes, we can make sure every student in every part of Fort Worth ISD has the same opportunities for academic success, college preparation, career training for high-paying jobs and award-winning athletic and fine arts programs. With our fast growth, our new and renovated schools and classroom space will alleviate crowding while helping areas where students may need extra attention.
The average age of our middle schools is 70 years. They needed renovating decades ago. As Fort Worth ISD trustee Roxanne Martinez said, “When I walked through some of our Fort Worth ISD middle schools, they looked exactly the same as when I walked through them 30 years ago.”
The bond referendum can help improve these outdated schools that are not equipped for modern learning.
Our community is on the move. We have a dynamic and growing population with a bright future. We are the 12th-largest city in the U.S. We know that the quality education of our children, preparing them for a path of college, career, and military service, is of utmost importance. We can pave that path for them by approving this bond.
Early voting began Monday and runs through Oct. 29. Commit now to vote and get your neighbors to do likewise. Ask your faith leader to announce it to the congregation. Attend your local school PTA meeting and promote the bonds there. Be a champion for our kids and show them that their needs are our highest priority.
Let’s provide our students and teachers with the facilities and tools they need to achieve excellence for every child in every classroom in every school – while saving us, the taxpayers, millions of dollars with current low bond rates.
The Rev. Charles Foster Johnson is pastor of Bread Fellowship of Fort Worth and executive director of Pastors for Texas Children. He chairs the 2021 FWISD bond campaign.