Sutherland for Schools blog
My family

Fort Worth ISD Trustee District 6 

Contact 817-504-3360 

Sutherland for Schools blog

Slavery and our new social studies texts

by Ann Sutherland on 07/23/15

Much public comment at our Tuesday board meeting involved concerns about the handling of the causes of the civil war.  Specifically, the TEKS list slavery third among the causes of the civil war even though most observers would list it as first.  

Our board will require review of texts and other materials to ensure students have adequate exposure to the causes of the civil war.  This review will begin immediately and will be completed in time for inclusion in 8th grade US History this coming year.

I talked to Pat Hardy, District Six's State Board of Ed representative and a social studies expert about this.  She had some helpful comments:
--TEKS require what must be included, not what else can be included
--Textbooks are no longer required to be approved by the SBOE.  Rather, as long as textbooks include the TEKS they are acceptable in Texas.  For this reason, publishers are no longer held to Texas-approved texts.
--Eighth grade US History in Texas only goes through the civil war (thus nothing about Jim Crow, which arose after Plessy v Ferguson (1896), the US Supreme Court case which led to segregation in schools and public facilities.  Eleventh grade US History goes from the civil war to the present.

Jobs for our new superintendent

by Ann Sutherland on 07/22/15

Every institution the size of FWISD has situations where staff do not live up to prescribed standards.  When this happens, the health of  the institution depends upon leadership addressing the substandard action.  Otherwise, the quality of the whole instution suffers as does its reputation.

This spring a proposal was brought forth to consolidate the operations of our two credit recovery programs.  The board adopted the recommendation even though several citizens had indicated problems with the decision.  After the adoption, investigation revealed serious problems with the procedures followed.  Most troubling was that software for an unsuitable version of one of the software programs had been substituted for the version which had been in use.  Thus the evaluation of applicant programs could not have been completed fairly.

After the board's decision there were several other complaints from parents about the decision and about the management of the program.

A second major problem with the board's selection, I was told, relates to records of student progress in our credit recovery system.  Without this record, student grades can be changed without any record of who is making the change or what changes had been made.

To my knowledge, no actions have been taken to rectify either the bad choice or to sanction the individuals involved.  

Our new superintendent will need to take a stronger stance.

Amazing demonstration of US schools' success

by Ann Sutherland on 07/21/15

Prof. David Berliner  recently spoke to the TASB spring workshop.  He was incredible.

On the "information" tab is the collection of slides he posted to show how well the US does.  

It will warm your heart.

Agenda and board book for July 21 meeting

by Ann Sutherland on 07/17/15

The agenda and board book for the July 21 meeting is now available at the "information" page.  It incl:

--14 purchases from vendors including supplemental reading materials from McGraw-Hill for low performing elementary and middle schools;
--Additional administrative support for the Dunbar and Eastern Hills pyramids;
--CIP budget amendment and approval of projects for Glen Park and Sunrise-McMillan elementary schools

I had requested a discussion of the Palazzolo case, which is up for appeal by the district, at this board meeting.  After review at this week's Board Agenda Review, this discussion will be postponed until the completion of further court action.

Requesting info on GED holders

by Ann Sutherland on 06/29/15

In response to many requests I have requested a list of all staff earning over $30,000 per year who do not possess a high school diploma, as well as the job postings of the jobs they are holding.

A new era?

by Ann Sutherland on 06/24/15

Five years ago we eliminated the district-wide presidency, which ended with the resignation of banker Ray Dickerson after he shockingly told interim superintendent Walter Dansby he had "no respect for him" from the dais.

Now we have young Jacinto Ramos with an entirely different agenda--to pull the board together.  Will it be the end of past bitter partisanship and the beginning of working together?  One can hope.

Last night saw am amazing 7-0 voting down of a proposal by three senior board members (two who weren't even present) to require two or three people to place items on the agenda after widespread revulsion in the community and a supporting editorial from the Star-Telegram.  The rationale, articulated by Trustee Paz, was that the policy reflected community wishes (you haven't heard this very often!)  Most observers thought this proposal was designed to silence my requests for some important items (such as a review of the Palazzolo case and those central office raises).  

We also passed a budget with solid numbers and a 3% raise for teachers.  It's not perfect but it's a real budget, not like the previous ones with bogus estimates of reserves.  Future staff raises will depend upon court cases and legislative deliberations, but for now it's settled.  Our budget staff should get flowers for this one.  

Readers didn't get to hear the review of the Palazzolo case in executive session but I can tell you it was useful and appreciated.

Finally, yours truly was voted onto the audit committee, with hopes that I will chair it and we will get to work on some serious audits.  No more hiding the results from the public.

All this with a spirit of harmony.  Not bad for our second meeting under this leadership.

REVISED June 23 agenda posted--sorry for delay

by Ann Sutherland on 06/21/15

Tuesday's agenda is now online.  It features

--vote on curtailing trustee board items
--3-cent tax increase on bond
--budget which is better but still has too much testing and a $20 million deficit
--five major construction projects 

Staff proposed one other item which is not on the agenda [and won't be discussed this time] involving paying $300,000+ to the city of Fort Worth for our truancy court.  We filed 1,853 cases against students and parents in 2013-14.  The total fines are unknown.  Thus we are (a) paying tax dollars to the city to put our students on trial; (b) paying for our own staff to administer this program, and (c) charging parents and teachers for alleged truancy.  I would like this whole program, and the legal framework involved, to be reviewed.  At least one other board member is also concerned. 

I'd be interested in your comments:  do you want our students and parents sent to court and fined for truancy?

Here is the superintendent search timeline as of 6/11/15

by Ann Sutherland on 06/17/15


 05/13/2015          Establish online application for interested candidates.

05/13/2015         Begin recruitment of candidates.

 07/13/2015          Deadline for all application materials. 

07/22/2015          Consultant develops and finalizes interview questions and procedures with the board. Candidates are presented to the board and consultant assists the board in selecting candidates for the interviews.  (Time: TBD)

 Wk of 07/27/15    Interview candidates (1st round).

Wk of 07/27/15    Meeting with consultant following the last interview. (Time: TBD)

Wk of 08/03/15    Interview candidates (2nd round if needed).

Wk of 08/03/15    Final meeting with consultant following the last interview (if needed). (Time: TBD)      

TBD                       Consultant will discuss contract terms with the finalist. 

TBD                       Announce Finalist

 TBD                       Board takes action to hire finalist 

TBD                       Press release of new superintendent. 

TBD                       Board Self-Assessment Survey Results presented to the board.

New reorganation offers more centralization. WRONG.

by Ann Sutherland on 06/17/15

The central office is never going to let go of its staff if they don't have to.  The latest reorganation proposes to centralize professional development.   In other words they are going to tell you what you need.  

"All District audits and survey results suggest that Professional Learning in FWISD would benefit from increased coherence across departments and divisions"  WRONG.  They haven't even consulted the $100,000 curriculum audit which Mr. Dansby initiated.  It said that professional development had to be driven from the site level.  

I have asked for a copy of these district audits and survey results but so far haven't received any.

Proposed reorganization is on the "information" tab

by Ann Sutherland on 06/16/15

Dr. Linares has allowed publication of the document.  The specific staffing has been removed.

Salary appeals are now posted (finally)

by Ann Sutherland on 06/09/15

I finally requested and received these appeals.  They are on the "information" tab.

Rosibel Jiminez was raised from an Admin Asst. II @ $50,131 to a Coordinator IV @ $62,968.80, an increase of $25.6%.  The reason given is that she reports directly to Chief Monge and he is "entitled to have a Coordinator IV."

(The delay is my fault, not staff's.)

What is going on with our class size program?

by Ann Sutherland on 06/07/15

Teachers with very large class sizes will be surprised to hear there are also some very small ones, and apparently a lot of "teachers" who do not have classes.  

Readers already know that we increased class sizes by A LOT a couple of years ago.  Here is the data:  
       Grade Level          Increase         

PK-5          2 children per class

6-8                          6 children per class

9-12                        2 children per class 

You can imagine my surprise when I checked our staffing ratios for 2012-13 only to find that there was 1 teacher for each 16.5 students district-wide.  (There must be a lot of teachers helping principals or other administrators!)

Then if you check the staffing at some of our "boutique" schools, you will find some very small numbers:  These are for 2012-13:  YWLA 10.4 students per teacher; TABS 14.5 students per teacher, YMLA, 12.4 students per teacher.  There are two high schools that were overstaffed by TEN teachers each.

This was just a snapshot of a past year, but if all schools were staffed closer to the staffing ratio, we would have been $4.8 million better off.

This would have paid for a lot of substitutes.

June 9 agenda item 13K proposes policy change to throttle member agenda items

by Ann Sutherland on 06/04/15


Here is the first push-back against our new leadership:  A proposal to require THREE board members to agree to place an item on the agenda before it is discussed. 

This is an issue because the three previous presidents all refused proper requests from me to place items on the agenda.  Mrs. Needham refused to place Mr. Dansby's "secret" raises on the agenda.  Then Mrs. Moss refused the same thing when she became president.  This year, Norman Robbins refused my request to provide board members with an update of the Palazzolo case.  Readers may not have known about these rule violations, but they will remember that I threatened to go to court if we couldln't discuss the Short Cycle Assessments . . . 

Now there is a proposal to require THREE people to agree to place items on the agenda.  This will squelch some important proposals and shift even more power to staff, who currently writes the WHOLE agenda.

June 2 2015 board budget workshop

by Ann Sutherland on 05/30/15

The only item on the agenda is the 2015-16 budget.  Documents were delivered to the board Friday after 5 p.m. and are not currently available online.  A list of the documents is posted on the "information" tab of this website.

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?????     

 Welcome to the Sutherland for Schools blog!  I will be posting items here which are of interest to the Fort Worth Independent School District community..  You will find recommended news items on my Twitter feed 
@DrAnnSutherland, and books and longer articles at the "articles" link above.   
You can get new posts automatically by accessing a link on your browser.