Tanglewood families face FWISD bond proposal and changing traditions

Clarification: An earlier version of the Tanglewood attendance zone had a line delineating Hulen Street and South Bellaire Drive. The Fort Worth school district has not set new boundaries for the zone.

If voters approve a $750 million bond package for Fort Worth schools in November, the area surrounding Tanglewood Elementary will undergo big change.

The bond includes $28 million to build a new elementary west of Hulen Street and south of Bellaire Drive South. This move would effectively split a neighborhood that’s been united around Tanglewood Elementary for decades. The change has already divided residents as the shift in boundary lines signals an end to some family traditions and routines.

Fort Worth ISD has proposed building a new elementary school within the Tanglewood Elementary attendance zone. If voters approve the measure the district will have to redraw attendance lines.

“It is sad to think that generations of neighborhood kids will no longer be collecting acorns, looking for turtles, picking wildflowers and splashing in puddles on their way to and from Tanglewood Elementary,” said Dr. Blair Meyer, an orthopedist who encourages her two children to be physically active before, during and after the school day.

The proposed boundaries shift her family to the new school. She and her neighbor, Ashley Johnson, live about a half mile from Tanglewood.

Hatch and Liza Meyer on their walks to and from Tanglewood Elementary. (Photos courtesy of Blair Meyer)

“As a parent you learn a lot on a walk home that you can’t learn in a car,” Johnson said. “But it’s not just how it affects me, it’s that it’s not a neighborhood school anymore.”

But the promise of a new school means building traditions for others.

Arden and Paul Jenkins live in the new Riverhills subdivison, which is a part of the historic Edwards Ranch. They have five children, four of whom would attend the new school.

“We love Tanglewood, it has been great,” Arden Jenkins said. “But we are really excited about a new school.”

Paul, Arden, Parker (7), Eden (6), Lake (4) and Gwen (2) Jenkins outside of their home. (Photo by Haley Harrison)

Jenkins said picking up her children from Tanglewood has been a 30-45 minute job. She said she was excited when her neighborhood finally got a school bus this year, but even that is at capacity. On Sept. 5, 10 children had to be left at school because the bus was full – children were sitting three and four to a seat. That day, some children waited for their ride home for over an hour, Jenkins said.

But if the bond passes, the Jenkins will likely be able to walk to and from the new elementary school.

Principal Connie Smith said that she thinks most parents are on board with the split.

“They want what is best for their kids,” Smith said. “I think they realize as Tanglewood has grown, what is best for their kids is to split the school and try to duplicate what Tanglewood has been able to do over the last 30 or 40 years.”

Tanglewood, as well as the proposed school, falls into the District of Trustee Judy Needham.

Needham said she and Smith were closely involved with the three surveys that were conducted by parents and the district leading up to the decision to build a new school. Other options included making Tanglewood a larger school, building a new school or splitting the grade levels.

Smith said most people supported a new elementary school.

“This school was built for 600 [students] maximum and they have almost 900 this year,” Needham said, making it the largest elementary school in the district.

She added that, if the bond passes, each elementary school would open with about 500 students, which will include two classes of pre-K.

The hardest part was deciding where to split the boundaries and build a new campus, Needham said.

“There are few sites available in the area,” Needham said. “So we are looking at a few sites near the library on Hulen. There is some vacant land there when you drive by.”

The bond vote is open to all Fort Worth residents. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 through Nov. 3. The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 7.