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Sutherland for Schools blog

EDITED: Reader supplies an explanation of the $55 million item

by Ann Sutherland on 05/26/15

This just came to me

You may or may not have been around when the 1999 Bond issues hit as they were disastrous in many ways to this community but the taxpayers and citizens do remember some items which specifically down the pike over the stealing, suicides, jail times, and many employees resigned over it. There were 4 or 5 board members involved as still presently on this board.
(1)    In Aug of this school year Linares and Vicki Burris had the Board approve anADDITIONAL construction procurement process which this board did for this upcoming bond program because of the 1999 shortcomings which the methodology was on what they call (CSP) Competitive Sealed Proposal, because the district could use best value.
Understand this was researched a year by the past bond leader Dansby along with a group of architects and engineers. It was highly successful for the 2007 bond issue.
However, you must have a highly qualified staff to compete with CSP. AS YOU REMEMBER, it Avila and Manning who requested the change thru Linares, Burris, and Needham. The ultimate and most importance reason was that Avila DID NOT QUALIFY under CSP because of fact that all of his veteran staffWALKED OUT after he became CEO! Therefore, a need to add the procurement methodology of (CMR) Construction Manager at Risk. This is how Avila qualifies under Turner Construction with their approval.
(2)    Although the argument MAY BE legal, the perception as the FWST article states, is a horrible indictment of the Board, the District, future bond programs which you all seem to have enough trust issues especially after the Supt fiasco. You really need to understand who Linares really works for and why the need to drag feet for her to stay.  The MAIN ISSUE which bothers  me as a taxpayer and citizen knowing a little about the law is the statement Paz made as quoted ”He’s (Avila) been very forthright and transparent about this situation” but unfortunately by law if he has talked to ANY Board Member about his interest in ay project involving this District it is AGAINST the law because of influence and conflict of interest. Paz just let the cat out of the bag.
(3)    This guy Andrew Wheat is exactly right as “With the trouble that has come before why go there”! You all are glutons for punishment and this could be a HUGE PUNISHMENT for all the board if this keeps happening.  Always keep in mind thatAvila was selected to run against Martinez by whom????  Isaac Manning and their group?   Who is Isaac Manning but head of bond steering committee!!!! You must certainly know that it was Manning and his group along with Needham and Jackson [Jackson was not involved in this according to my information] who pushed Speer to run against YOU!! It is also common knowledge with FWISD followers that Dansby told Avila several times he would not be on the Bond Management Team. We know REALLY why Dansby is gone and I guarantee you most Board Members don’t want to go there.
I truly believe if this passes that the entire board will held accountable and could be headed for another FBI investigation. A Board Member should ask at this time for an external audit of the process used to select them and also Linares, Burris, Needham, and especially Manning as control. CAN YOU SEE THE REALLY BIG PICTURE?????     

May 26 Agenda,Board Book, new budget projections now available at "information" tab

by Ann Sutherland on 05/22/15

Election of Officers is the last item on the agenda.  Prior to this, we will

--relocate portable buildings
--vote on whether to commit 137,000 to two vendors, including Byrne, which is headed by FWISD Trustee Matt Avila;
--move to acquire needed properties for the IM Terrell conversion

NOTE:  Budget workshop June 2.  Projections given on May 17 include data for several out years.  See the 2nd item on the "information" tab--much improved over earlier data.

For Odyssey/Plato teachers and users--follow-up

by Ann Sutherland on 05/21/15

Here is a partial explanation for the recent switch to Odyssey, which readers complained about.  According to Michael Steinert, the 2nd semester switch which was criticized by readers was necessitated by Plato's withdrawal of support for the existing system which teachers and supervisors had worked to revise to meet our expectations.   My review of the change-over suggests that the reasons for this shift at the beginning of the second semester (so roundly criticized by readers) was necessitated by Plato's removing support for our earlier system.

When future changes are made to systems like this, the need for the changes should be communicated carefully to school site staff.  

Special meeting and workshop Tues. May 19

by Ann Sutherland on 05/16/15

The special meeting is for the purpose of certifying the election and swearing in the four of us who were re-elected.  However, as of Friday afternoon, the county had not provided the necessary documents, so that part of the meeting may have to be postponed.

A draft of the budget workshop will be posted on the information apple on p. 1.

Brother, can you spare a dime? or $50,000?

by Ann Sutherland on 05/13/15

If you listened to the discussion last night about the seven new associate and assistant superintendents, you surely would have thought there was no new money involved.  But you should have been skeptical . . . 

Turns out the extra change is $54,000, or an average of $10,900 for five people.  Here is the data.  

Name Old Stipend Total New Added cost
Sara Arispe 123956.60 12000.00 135956.60 144453.00 8496.40
Karen Molinar 111487.20 12000.00 123487.20 135352.00 11864.80
Cherie Washington       135352.00 135352.00
Mariagrazia Sheffield 123307.20 12000.00 135307.20 135307.00 -0.20
Michael Steinert 115980.00 0.00 115980.00 129672.00 13692.00
Elsie Schiro 146774.40 17784.00 164558.40 185000.00 20441.60
Jerry Moore 119325.00 12000.00 131325.00 119325.00 -12000.00
TOTAL for five  806614.40 849109.00 54494.60
Average raise given to five  $10,898

Additional for Ms. Washington                                                          135352

TOTAL NEW SALARIES                                                                 $189,846

Reader makes specific allegations re Odyssey

by Ann Sutherland on 05/12/15

 I am concerned with an item being presented at tonight’s Board Meeting -       

                I strongly urge you to look further into the recommendation of  
Odysseyware before making a decision, specifically requesting documents         
provided to Mr. Christopher Riddick last year. These documents were the result  
of an investigation in which it was found that students were able to fulfill    
graduation requirements after spending a mere 30 minutes for a credit using     
Odysseyware software. 
In addition, it was discovered that campus staff had the  
ability to physically change a grade in the system in order for a student to    
graduate. An example would be a student that scored 50’s and 60’s on all work   
and received and 85 for their final work. It was found that Odysseyware is      
incapable of tracking who changed the grade. 
It is my understanding that the    
results showed that a minimum of 20 students graduated fraudulently using       
Odysseyware software, and that the investigation was halted at that point and   
all Odysseyware software was pulled from the campuses for a period of time. I   
am baffled as to how and why they would now recommend this product.

      As a FWISD taxpayer and voter, I was appalled when I learned of this      
investigation and I would hope you feel the same. I urge you to investigate     
further before making a decision. Furthermore, I urge you to investigate the    
possibility of a conflict of interest between Odysseyware and personnel in the  
Student Services/ Student Engagement departments.

Personnel changes on board for tonight's meeting at top of Admn. structure

by Ann Sutherland on 05/12/15

Last year, Supt. Dansby gave a bunch of his senior administrators 2-year contracts (he hid them in the middle of the Chapter 21 list).  This year the action is more open.  These changes must be left open for our new superintendent.

Your votes are so sweet to me

by Ann Sutherland on 05/10/15

Readers, thank you for stepping up Saturday!  We won by 450 votes mostly because of election-day votes, although we were also ahead by a smaller amount in the mail and early voting totals.  

This is a victory for the teachers, parents and taxpayers of Fort Worth and it will make a difference.  I promise you.

Thanks to Mario Perez and Craig Murphy and their truly awesome team.  They staffed half of the polling stations with intelligent, informed volunteers, left door-hangers, and knocked on doors.  Mario's parents, Juan and Nelda Perez, even sat at the Wedgcreek polling station the whole day!  

A true tour-de-force.

Thanks to all of you for your support. You can count on me to continue to deliver the same representation you have become used to, and I plan to continue the blog.

May 12 Agenda and board book available

by Ann Sutherland on 05/08/15

The agenda and board book are now available on the "information" tab.

The agenda includes terminations, new administrative posts and Chapter 21 contracts.


Former sub says it all.

by Ann Sutherland on 05/05/15

Here is a comment that is more important than my posts:
Ann, I am sorry you have had to endure Ms. Speer's mudslinging.  On one of her  
mailers, she actually claims superiority because she says she "treats      
others as she wants to be treated."  I think it takes a lot of gall for    
her to make this claim.  If she did such a great job when she was entrusted     
with student safety, why these issues:
* Student shot on campus at South Hills HS
* Cutback in campus monitors.  During those years, I was horrified to visit my  
son's middle school campus cafeteria and not see ONE adult in the cafeteria     
with the students at lunch time.  I was told, "Don't worry.  The campus    
officer is watching on a video monitor."
* Outbreak of Swine flu, resulting in death of one student.  When some of us    
parents reported unsanitary conditions in student bathrooms (which still exist  
today, not part of either bond program), we were treated with dismissive,       
delayed response.  By the way, it is STILL, after 2 bond programs, physically   
IMPOSSIBLE for young students to wash hands properly in older bathrooms--some   
faucets require you to touch and hold water on with one hand while trying to    
rinse the other hand; no hot water heaters; frequent lack of soap and paper     
towels; very short restroom breaks/locked restrooms during passing              
periods--very unhealthy for young kidneys.
* If Ms. Speer is so concerned about "vulgarity and profanity" in our 
schools, why were students using the F word WITH IMPUNITY during my years as a  
sub.  Instead of knowing I would receive support from the front office when a   
student cursed me and walked out after I asked him to put away his phone, on    
which he was blaring rap music with the N word, I had to fear that by reporting 
the problem, I would be placed on the "Do Not Call" list for lacking  
classroom control.  I took a risk and did report it, and the administrators     
shrugged their shoulders.
* Why are students not allowed to use the seat belts on the buses that finally  
have them?
* Why is your blog our only outlet for anonymous reporting of problems?  Ms.    
Speer presided over a department that allowed Coach Perry at AHHS to use awful  
language with STUDENTS as well as to misuse booster funds and brag about her    
sexual exploits.  This created an UNSAFE environment for staff and students     
alike, and yet the District has spent over $3 million dollars defending the     
indefensible, and as school board member, I believe Ms. Speer would vote to     
continue this fiasco.
* Why do teachers continue to fear retaliation and workplace bullying?
* Ms. Speer claims she is committed to full support of our FWISD teachers and   
administrators.  What happens when these are mutually exclusive, which is most  
often the case?  Who will make the administrators accountable?

Ann, you have been a courageous champion for teachers and students.  Thank you  
for your willingness to continue serving.  You have my vote!

Mrs. Speer's campaign

by Ann Sutherland on 04/30/15

I am tired of being accused of things I have not done in campaign mailers byCecelia Speer, who is running to unseat me! I NEVER used vulgar or profane language in a board meeting, nor have I mis-treated principals, violated the duties of my office, the Texas Open Meetings Act or any of the other things she is quoting, said by others..
I HAVE complained about overspending and deficit budgeting, as supported by the Star-Telegram in its editorial last August 5th, and I will continue to complain about our budget which continues to take many dollars from our classrooms in order to pay for high-priced central administrators.
This election campaign is about the condition of our classrooms and the treatment of our teachers and students. Teachers and parents are desperate to stop the over-testing of our children and disorderly classrooms. Mrs. Speer's negative campaign has offered no plans to stem the decline of our schools--just ugly untruths about me.

Complaints about Paschal HS

by Ann Sutherland on 04/30/15

The following complaint was recently posted on the CIAFWISD blog:

The budget is a huge concern, as is the lack of accountability in our schools. With all of the administrative staff we are paying, the protocols and policies of the district should be enforced in EVERY school. Dress codes, attendance and tardy policies, chain of command policies. How is it that it's a complete free-for-all out in the school(s) with no one really manning the ship? People who appear to have no job descriptions but earn a paycheck abound. Students are suffering and faculty and staff are disillusioned and frustrated beyond words. Phones out, earbuds in, hoodies up, shorts revealing, tank tops and midriff tops, students milling the halls all day long. Downtown has to be aware of this, yet, nothing is occurring to bring it under control. Where are our advocates? Parents? Concerned alums? Too many students and not enough classrooms, teachers floating, but they keep accepting more and more transfers. Are the other high schools in this state? I'd love to hear from other parents, teachers, staff about this ongoing travesty.

Summer school rules clarified

by Ann Sutherland on 04/28/15

A parent asked me to find out the summer school rules.  I apologize for the wait time but here is Mr. Riddick's answer:

The criteria for enrollment will be prioritized as follows

 1.      Seniors who did not complete the necessary course work for graduation at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

2.   Students enrolled in Web-based Curriculum Program (Plato/Odysseyware) during the spring of 2015 who did not complete the course by the end of the semester.

3.      Students who can recover credits and achieve 12th grade status for 2015-2016 (at least 18 or more credits )

4.      Students currently enrolled in Project Reach program

Students who meet the above criteria will not be charged tuition.

 Any other students who do not meet with above criteria may enroll in Web-based Curriculum Program (Plato/Odysseyware) and will be charged a user fee of $90.00.  Priority will be given to: 1) students who have an opportunity to graduate at the end of the 2015 summer, and 2) students who did not complete Web-based Curriculum Program (Plato/Odysseyware) courses during 2014-2015 school year.  Enrollment is limited to the availability of space on each individual campus.

 Each regular program high school campus will receive $5,000 for the Web-based Curriculum Program (Plato/Odysseyware) summer school.  Each campus will complete a plan for how their Web-based Curriculum Program will run for summer school.

 The Web-based Curriculum Program (Plato/Odysseyware) can begin summer school as early as June 15, 2015

Agenda and board book for Tuesday Apr 28 meeting available

by Ann Sutherland on 04/24/15

At the "information" tab, which is still technically "data".  

Included this week are
--final approval of turf contract
--revision of FNCA (Local) re Student Conduct:  Dress Code;
--new sign-on bonuses to new bilingual education teachers
--more school buses (huh?)
--AND--support of SB 106 which our staff testified against recently.  
      (another example of the board stepping up).

Fort Worth should support reducing fines and jail time for truancy

by Ann Sutherland on 04/16/15

Last week the FWISD staff opposed a bill designed to reduce the fines associated with truancy.  They did this without board review or support.

I oppose the staff position because I support Sen. Whitmire's bill as do trustees Ramos, Needham and Moss.

SB 106, a bill by Senator John Whitmire, D-Houston, would  decriminalize unexcused absences and lessen the long-time burden on students who carry misdemeanor convictions through their lives for truancy.  This effort is part of ending the school-to-prison pipeline for which Texas is notorious.

Whitmire is carrying this bill after a great amount of research and consultation because he thinks the penalties--fines up to $500--affecting 115,000 children--over twice as many as any other state-can have a negative effect for kids' whole lives.  "Don't make a 14-year-old a criminal because he or she can't get to school because of a hardship," Whitman told his colleagues.  "This is tough, very serious.   . . . But let's just quit criminalizing young people.  This is long overdue."  The bill is supported by major players in Austin, including the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Association for Business, according to the Star-Telegram..

Jerry Moore, who is in charge of our legislative work, reported to me, 

"This is the administrative stance of Fort Worth ISD as it relates to Truancy.  Truancy is a major factor in our average daily attendance which as you know has huge impact on our funding.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to call Dr. Linares."

We should think twice before opposing a bill like this, which has major support in Austin.  And policy decisions are the prerogative of the board, not of staff.

Here is the article:   

And here is the bill itself, for those who are interested: 

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