The I.M. Terrell building served as the school for the county's African-American students until the 1970s. Yamil Berard Star-Telegram
The I.M. Terrell building served as the school for the county's African-American students until the 1970s. Yamil Berard Star-Telegram

Fort Worth

Terrell emerges as hot spot for new Fort Worth academies

By Yamil Berard

yberard@star-telegram.com

January 30, 2015 6:20 PM

FORT WORTH

I.M. Terrell Elementary School has emerged as a popular site for the district’s showcase schools for the performing arts, and science and engineering.

Four trustees have indicated support of placing the schools — the Visual & Performing Arts School and the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Academy — at Terrell, which as a high school was the city’s first public school for black students.

“I think the board is favorably disposed to the STEM Academy and the Performing Arts Center be located at I.M. Terrell,’’ board President Norman Robbins said. “It’s a pretty cost-effective way of doing what we need to do, since costs are an issue. That one is probably the best solution for us.”

Others who have expressed support for Terrell are Judy Needham, Tobi Jackson and T.A. Sims.

Trustees are expected to have a work session to analyze the costs associated with housing the schools at Terrell, Interim Superintendent Pat Linares said Friday.

“Staff was asked to study facility options for the Visual and Performing Arts Academy as well as additional options for the STEM Academy,” Linares said. “We were asked to look at the feasibility of utilizing I.M. Terrell as an option for either school or a combined school.”

The idea to house the two schools at I.M. Terrell was introduced late last year by trustee T.A. Sims. Both schools were approved in last year’s $490 million bond election

The idea is popular among some in the African-American community because of the significance of the campus.

I.M. Terrell Elementary is the site of the former I.M. Terrell High School, the only all-black high school in Tarrant County until the 1970s when Fort Worth schools became more integrated. A number of community leaders are I.M. Terrell graduates, including Devoyd Jennings, the president/CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Fort Worth and Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders.

I.M. Terrell Elementary currently houses more than 200 elementary schoolchildren. If the showcase schools are placed there, those youngsters will attend other schools.

The move to I.M. Terrell would be a departure from early plans to house the schools at other locations. Trustees voted Nov. 11 to renovate the current alternative school site, formerly known as the Leonard Sixth Grade Center, for the STEM Academy.

In recent months, trustees have disagreed over the location for the Visual and Performing Arts School.

Linares’ early recommendation was that the specialty school for the arts be in a district-owned parcel near Farrington Field. Board members Cinto Ramos, Ashley Paz and Robbins had been in favor of that site, which is near the Cultural District.

Other visual arts academy options have included: Wilkerson Greines Athletic Complex, 5201 C.A. Roberson Street, 107 acres; Cesar Chavez Primary, 3701 Deen Road, 42 acres; Lowery Road Elementary, 7600 Lowery Road, 24.4 acres; Polytechnic High School, 1300 Conner, 23.5 acres, alternate site analysis shows.

Yamil Berard, 817-390-7705

Twitter: @yberard

Work study

Fort Worth school board members will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the district boardroom, 2903 Shotts Street, to discuss I.M. Terrell Elementary School as a possible location for the The Visual & Performing Arts School and the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Academy .

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