Fort Worth schools seek private support




Posted on February 25, 2011 at 8:06 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 26 at 12:59 PM

FORT WORTH - As school districts look to the legislature for more money, one North Texas district is looking somewhere else, local businesses.

The Fort Worth Independent School District is asking North Texas businesses for help keeping vital programs in place.

This week, they got the first proof it's working. The advanced media program at Polytechnic High School teaches video production and television journalism, but students learn much more, according to teacher Marco Gabaldon.

"You have to have good English skills, math skills, communication skills ... and you also have to work as a team," he said.

The program needs to replace old and broken equipment, something a district facing an $80-million ,budget deficit cannot afford. But thanks to a new program, they will still get it without the district spending a dime.

The district partnered with Communities Foundation of North Texas to create the Fort Worth ISD Excellence Fund.

“Education can't be just the job of the school system,” said Dr. Melody Johnson, the Fort Worth ISD superintendent.

The foundation collects money from North Texas businesses. That money can then be spent on the schools they designate.

This week, Chase Bank became the first business to write a check, $50,000 for the advanced media program at Poly.

"We know exactly what it's going to be used for, every dime of it,” Gabaldon said.

The district is trying to partner donor businesses with specialty programs in other schools, so that for instance, an engineering company might sponsor an engineering program.

"I think there's a myriad of ways that companies can get involved that we haven't really explored in the past,” Johnson said. “Need is driving that right now. "

Neither Arlington nor Dallas ISDs have actively pursued a similar initiative. Johnson said her goal is to see $10 million raised over the next few years.