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Fewer schools in Fort Worth ISD? School board to consider study that could tee up campus closures

Rufino Mendoza Elementary students look at a worksheet on Aug. 14, 2023, in Fort Worth.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
Rufino Mendoza Elementary students look at a worksheet on Aug. 14, 2023, in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth ISD is expected to take its first step toward closing schools as enrollment declines.

If you go…

What: The Fort Worth ISD school board’s regular meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26

Where: Teaching and Learning Center, 1050 Bridgewood Drive

The school board is expected to consider Sept. 26 a resolution calling for a study of school building capacity.

“A capacity study will provide the district with recommendations to address both under-enrolled and overcrowded schools, ensuring that facilities are utilized efficiently,” board documents state.

Since 2016, Fort Worth ISD has lost roughly one in five students. The district anticipates enrollment for the 2023-24 school year to be 70,675. If that number holds, the district will have lost 16,753 students since 2016, when enrollment hit a record 87,428 students.

Across Fort Worth ISD’s 122 campuses, the district has the capacity to hold 92,626 students, according to records obtained by the Fort Worth Report through an open records request.

The study will analyze:

  • Educational programming
  • Operating costs
  • Per pupil costs
  • Staffing structures
  • Student dislocation
  • Building capacity
  • Projected enrollment
  • Desirability of the site
  • Building and property condition
  • Life expectancy of the building
  • Community use and historical context

Before the study is published, the district plans to present a “decision framework” at public meetings planned to occur before any recommendations are made to the school board.

“Notification of the initial rightsizing recommendation will be shared first and directly with impacted school staff, families, and area elected officials,” the proposed resolution states.

The district pinned its declining enrollment on demographic trends, regional shortages of housing options for young families and charter schools.

Lower birth rates, fewer immigrants, demographic shifts, an aging American population and increased competition from charter schools have likely fueled decreases across the nation, a school finance expert from Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab previously told the Fort Worth Report.

Fort Worth ISD is among four school systems across the nation that lost about 10% of their enrollment in the past three years.

Superintendent Angélica Ramsey expects enrollment to flatten at 55,000 students.

A declining enrollment hits hard in a district with a $45 million general fund deficit, a loss of $123 million in state revenue since 2019 and a mandate to send excess property tax revenue to the state.

Enrollment serves as the foundation for many financial decisions a school district makes. Texas schools receive state funding based on the number of students who attend classes. Official count day is Oct. 27.

Because of the deficit, Ramsey cut $3 million in positions from central administration.

District officials have used $261.6 million in federal stimulus funds and reserves to balance the budget. The stimulus funds expire next fall.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at 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.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University. Contact him at or via Twitter.