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Fort Worth ISD Trustee District 6 

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Sutherland for Schools blog

No action on the cafeteria services or staff

by Ann Sutherland on 10/10/17

A number of cafeteria workers are expected to speak at tonight's meeting regarding a contemplated change in our cafeteria services. I am informed there are no plans to change cafeteria arrangements; in fact the review is over the organization of the management. I have checked this with our HCM director and I am certain it is true.

Agenda and Board Book for Tuesday October 10, 2017

by Ann Sutherland on 10/06/17

http://bit.ly/2xWSbEd 


The agenda is pretty short. We will receive a second report on the 2-3 grade progress on literacy.  Staff has been unable to provide justification for the Sept. 26 report.  (Are they creating an ex post facto explanation?  Dr. Scribner's staff refuse to provide it or even a time when it will be available.  I am sending a copy of the letter to our TEA manager.

During your various presentations of school performance levels, I have asked several times for correlations to grade level equivalents, particularly when Achieve 3000 was presented and voted on, with the STAAR tests, and again last Tuesday, when a new metric, the "FWISD Universal Screener/Progress Monitoring Tool", was used to establish student outcome goals pursuant to Measure 1.1 of our Gold Star Governance plan.  Generally, staff has informed us that a correlation to grade equivalents was not possible.


In fact, the relationships between established measures, including the STAAR tests,  and grade equivalents, are readily available online.  I attach three examples FYI.


Failure to utilize standard comparisons in reporting scores makes it impossible to adequately assess student performance, a paramount goal of public school systems.  I hope that you will employ them in approving presentations to the Board in the future.


I am looking forward to receiving the documentation on the Lone Star Measure 1 goals.  


Thanks very much.



Did they make up the numbers? How can we tell?

by Ann Sutherland on 10/03/17

During our various presentations of school performance levels, I have asked several times for correlations to grade level equivalents, particularly when Achieve 3000 was presented and voted on, with the STAAR tests, and again last Tuesday, when a new metric, the "FWISD Universal Screener/Progress Monitoring Tool",was used to establish student outcome goals pursuant to Measure 1.1 of our Gold Star Governance plan.  But staff couldn't tell us how the scores compare to grade levels.

Generally, staff has implied  that a correlation to grade equivalents was not possible.

This is wrong.  In fact, there are readily available equating charts not only for Lexiles but also for every one of the STAAR tests, AR, and some other 

 (The data regarding the scores on the 3rd grade STAAR test are correct, but we have still not moved from next to the bottom--a fact which was omitted during the presentation.  Apparently there are no plans to track this.)

What can be done to urge the district to come clean on our student performance levels?  

Did they make up the numbers? How can we tell?

by Ann Sutherland on 10/03/17

During your various presentations of school performance levels, I have asked several times for correlations to grade level equivalents, particularly when Achieve 3000 was presented and voted on, with the STAAR tests, and again last Tuesday, when a new metric, the "FWISD Universal Screener/Progress Monitoring Tool",was used to establish student outcome goals pursuant to Measure 1.1 of our Gold Star Governance plan.  But they couldn't tell us how the scores compare to grade levels.

Generally, staff has implied  that a correlation to grade equivalents was not possible.

This is wrong.  In fact, there are readily available equating charts not only for Lexiles but also for every one of the STAAR tests, AR, and some other 

 (The data regarding the scores on the 3rd grade STAAR test are correct, but we have still not moved from next to the bottom--a fact which was omitted during the presentation.  Apparently there are no plans to track this.)

What can be done to urge the district to come clean on our student performance levels?  

Your school's bond allocations

by Ann Sutherland on 09/13/17

These are now posted on our "information" page.


The first page is a list of the projects from the $750 million in the bond.  The next pages, presented in a different format, give the projects for the remaining schools and total $160 million over the seven-year period.

The additional $160 million is state aid which would not have been available without the "penny swap). 

RESPONSES TO COMMENTS ON THE BOND

by Ann Sutherland on 09/10/17

President Jackson, Secretary Luebanos and I met with he bond staff on Wednesday Sept. 6.  It was a good discussion, although I still see a couple of loose ends.  The following comments will respond to this and other issues about FWISD and the bond.

VAPA/STEM:  There is a lot of misunderstanding about the delay in opening the STEM/VAPA academy.  Apparently the board voted to postpone the opening until 8/18, which is legal.  The reason?  IM Terrell is one of our four IR schools.  As readers probably know, it was closed in June because the students are being moved to VanZant-Guinn because the Butler housing is being demolished.  The former date was Jan.1, at the end of the first semester.  The Butler parents asked that the move be postponed so that the children could finish the year at the old school, especially as it is an IR school.  We agreed.

LAPTOPS:  Yes, we lost $220,000 worth of laptops and there are clearly insufficient controls to stop it.  Teachers notified the FWISD Auditor via the hot line.  We found out the culprits.  No one was punished. 

DII, ACHIEVE 3000 insufficient review etc:  I agree with you 100%.  I call this the Ex-Husband Technique.  This technique is to keep information from anyone who might not like it so they won’t know whether it is a good or bad idea.  And after we give them the money it doesn’t matter whether there is a plan.  THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN EVALUATION OF THE PLANS presented to the board.  I am completely disgusted with our board’s letting staff get away with this.  This year they are continuing DII, despite Dr. Scribner’s telling us it was ending.  (Oh, wait.  They changed the name from DII to Fort Worth something).

WHY A $750 MILLION BOND RATHER THAN A $200-$300 MILLION BOND?  We need a bond for two new schools (remember, our enrollment is growing at the secondary level) and for some other repairs.  I still would prefer a smaller bond over a shorter space of time.  Staff pared the amount down to $750 in order to get support from the business community.  I voted for it because this is preferable to nothing and because the projects will enhance our program.  You might disagree.

 There has never been an audit of the $487 million 2013 bond, nor of the two before that.  The only one that I know of was the $220 million loss of laptops.  You are correct that many homes have no Wi-Fi.  This is probably the reason that we are seeing a lot more students working in the halls after school.  There were still some at Southwest at 6 PM when I was over there one day last Spring.

THE TANGLEWOOD EXPANSION.  Money for the Tanglewood expansion was never spent until last summer, and the amount was $8.6 million rather than the $11 million carried on the powerpoint presented at Paschal last spring.  The $8.6 million is now being directed, as was required by the bond language, at the kitchen and library renovations at Tanglewood.  .

 

LIBRARY ACQUISITIONS.  I agree with one commenter about the library acquisitions and the trend toward more on-line learning.  As you report, studies show this is an inferior way to impart knowledge.  (Same with multiple-choice tests inhibiting the ability to reason!)

 So what do we have?  We have a bond which is larger than necessary.  A school system that advertises it will prepare ALL student for college and success but which meanwhile overlooks massive misbehavior by students making it impossible for 90% of our students to maximize their learning opportunities.   A school board that refuses to utilize independent evaluations of our programs.  

This in a state with massive pressure toward charter schools.  And no discussion of any of these issues. 

New rules about employee leave

by Ann Sutherland on 09/02/17

Employee leave implementation, which was recently amended, is at 


http://pol.tasb.org/Policy/Code/1101?filter=DEC 

State law regarding planning time. 450 minutes every 2 weeks.

by Ann Sutherland on 09/02/17

450 minutes divided by 10 is an AVERAGE of 45 minutes per day.  If you have less one week,  you have to get more the next two weeks.  

"Each classroom teacher is entitled to at least 450 minutes in each two-week period for instructional preparation including parent-teacher conferences, evaluating students’ work, and planning.  A planning and preparation period may not be less than 45 minutes within the instructional day.  During that time, a teacher may not be required to participate in any other activity.  Education Code 21.404 [See DC(LEGAL) for definition of classroom teacher]

"Planning and preparation time must occur during the time that students at the school where the teacher is located are receiving instruction.  Canutillo Educators Ass’n v. Canutillo Indep. Sch. Dist., Tex. Comm’r of Educ. Decision No. 042-R10-203 (April 30, 2010)

DUTY-FREE LUNCH

Each classroom teacher or full-time librarian is entitled to at least a 30-minute lunch period free from all duties and responsibilities connected with the instruction and supervision of students.  The implementation of this requirement may not result in a lengthened school day.  Education Code 21.405  [See DC(LEGAL) for definition of classroom teacher and DEA(LEGAL) for definition of librarian]"

Also, btw, "Teachers may not be required to spend their 30-minute duty-free lunch break on school property.  Tex. Att’y Gen. Op. JM-481 (1986)"

URGENT. How to protect yourself from adverse action from administrators

by Ann Sutherland on 08/30/17

One of the most important pieces of information staff will ever read was just posted on the CIAFWISD.COM website.


Posted Aug 29, the item reads
It contains advice which, if followed, could change the face of our district.  The #1 piece of advice:  secretly record all conversations with administrators that deal with bullying or assault.

Read it.

I don't know who wrote this but I have been offended (yes, offended) for years at the way principals are allowed to disregard reports of assault and bullying.  Our district has no requirement that these be reported to police.  When they are, my understanding is that the police officer can use HIS/HER judgment whether to file charges.

Last year we had a student at South Hills who was caught TWICE selling drugs, once inside the school.  The second time drugs were identified in his car after he approached it (I was sent a photo of the drugs and paraphernalia).  If I am not mistaken, the student was sent to DAEP the second time but there was NO police report, either by the school or by DAEP.  

So the information contained in the CIA posting is perhaps the most important blogpost our teachers have ever had.  


Bond to go before voters in November; no overall tax rate increase

by Ann Sutherland on 08/25/17

On Monday, the board voted to place a $750 million bond proposition on the ballot.  There will be no overall increase in the tax rate.


Heading the list of improvements are a new school to handle the Tanglewood overcrowding.  This school will be built across Hulen from the existing campus, just north of I-20.  Also there will be  a new campus on the East side for the Young Men's Leadership Academy.

The proposal also features $514 million in major expansion of our secondary campuses, in part to support expansion of our Programs of Choice.  Currently, 30% of our students attend our schools of choice.  

Finally, the proposal contains $66 million to improve athletic and and other extracurricular facilities.

Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro and Budget Director Lori Boswell of our  FWISD finance staff have structured this bond proposition by altering the two tax revenue streams of local and state tax funds.  Currently, our facilities and ancillary expenditures are completely supported by local property tax funding.  By shifting some of the activities to the state-supported fund, we are able to qualify for approximately $120 million in additional state support.  This $120 million will be spent on shorter-term supplies that in the past were purchased through bond funds.

It is a great proposal.  Please vote for it.

Substitute availability continues to improve

by Ann Sutherland on 08/25/17

The end of the school year is always challenging but we had a 25% decrease in the percentage of unfilled teaching slots in May of '17 compared to May of 2016.  Part of this reason was the substitute bonus program instituted by HCM chief Cynthia Rincon, and there was a great substitute appreciation party after the end of the school year.


The May decrease in unfilled teacher absences was preceded by consistent decreases in unfilled slots for the previous several months.  

We still have work to do.  Chief Rincon reports that plans are finalizing for another substitute incentive plan this year.  Thanks for her diligence and the leadership of Supt. Scribner.

First week teacher inservice

by Ann Sutherland on 08/24/17

Welcome back!  Seems like you are rested, which is good.  We have a lot of new principals:  in District Six just over half are new.  I would like to focus this year on the quality of inservice.  Located on the "information" page is a 5-page inservice item which implies that you should be able to provide detailed planning for one of your activities.  It will give you a laugh.


If you email me a handout you think is notable, I will post it.  Email is Ann.Sutherland@sbcglobal.net.

Have a great year.

Regular board meeting August 22, 2017

by Ann Sutherland on 08/19/17

This meeting features a lot of purchases, plus approval of the student code of conduct and approval of the compensation manual (just a summary)


One new AP appointment will also be considered.

Special Board Meeting Monday Aug 21 5:30

by Ann Sutherland on 08/19/17

The bond election and proposals for the bond will be discussed Aug 21 at 5:30 pm.  

Members of our community may be worn out after the first day of school, and can view the meeting on video later if they wish.  The video will be available at 
https://www.fwisd.org/Page/441 

Agenda and Board Book for Tuesday August 15 2017

by Ann Sutherland on 08/13/17

http://bit.ly/2uzuYas


The agenda will feature approval of a November election (no effective change in total tax rate), approval of a projected $685 million in bond expenditures, more Lonestar Governance training, and a lot of curricular purchases.

   
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