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Fort Worth ISD Trustee District 6 

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Sutherland for Schools blog

Restorative Discipline doesn't seem to be working

by Ann Sutherland on 06/16/18

You may remember that after a FWISD climate survey revealed that over half of our teachers fear either verbal or physical assault, we quit getting reliable data on teacher opinions about classroom climate.  

I just discovered a newsletter about schools which centers on things teachers are particularly interested in.  This link is testimony about the failure of President Obama's new discipline policy which doesn't seem to be working.  

https://www.the74million.org/article/investigation-in-new-york-city-school-where-a-teenager-was-killed-students-educators-say-lax-discipline-led-to-bullying-chaos-and-death/

A longer article with more references is

https://www.the74million.org/article/investigation-in-new-york-city-school-where-a-teenager-was-killed-students-educators-say-lax-discipline-led-to-bullying-chaos-and-death/

Farewell to Sammy Monge

by Ann Sutherland on 06/15/18

Mr. Monge retires at the end of June.  I've had my beefs with him but he did some great, and unheralded things which deserve note.  Most notable was the oversight he provided during Dr. Scribner's early tenure.  Thanks to Mr. Monge and others, the district continued to operate during these early months.  


Sammy has great scope:  sitting through those board agenda review meetings, I could not help but be impressed not only with his grasp of each of those scores of agenda items but also his ability to present each of them clearly and briefly.

So thanks, Mr. Monge.  Enjoy your retirement--you've earned it.
 

More central office staff

by Ann Sutherland on 06/07/18

FWISD recently disclosed that in the 17-18 year, they ADDED 12 positions to the central office staff plus 6 more to maintenance.


More next year.  

Decimating our secondary teaching force: 181 teachers placed on "surplus list"; more coming . . .

by Ann Sutherland on 06/07/18

Dr. Scribner is on track to better Julius Caesar, who liked to murder one-tenth of the soldiers when he conquered a neighboring territory.  But we are decimating our own teaching force.  Worse, we are targeting some of our most experienced teachers.

The district has sent me a list of these 181 teachers with their ethnicity and years of service. Of the 181,
--34 have resigned
--6 retured
--12 were transferred, and
--124 have not been placed as of 5/24/2018.

Racial breakdown:
45 African American
24 Hispanic
1 Native American
3 Other
100 White

Most have only a few years of service.  However, of the 141 who did not retire or resign, 17 (12%) have over ten years of service.

It is universally acknowledged by education experts that, within the school, teachers have the most impact.  Principals have some, and central office "helpers" have none.

This is inconcievable to me; but more important, secondary teachers should be warned that they may be among the next 300 slated for the exit.

Press excluded from visiting failing FWISD school

by Ann Sutherland on 05/23/18

KERA is doing a series on failing schools but when they tried to visit John T. White, access was denied.  

http://keranews.org/post/top-stories-runoff-election-races-north-texas-failing-schools-fort-worth?_ga=2.214674836.2045519745.1527077724-1672291875.1527077724

"Why are you doing this to our children?"

by Ann Sutherland on 05/21/18

Why are cuts being made?? I was very proud of my granddgt for choosing orchestra at xxxxxxxx middle school which hasn't been cut,yet, how much was cut from sports? Why are you doing this to our children? 

Here is my weak answer:  There is no legitimate excuse for cuts of this size.  

It all started last year when staff decided, without board deliberation or approval, that we would achieve a high school student:teacher ratio of 25:1, with teachers teaching 6 core teachers (7 non-core classes).

OK, so let's do the math.  Staffing ratio for core classes is 150 for 6 classes.  That's 25 students per class.  So apparently these mathematically illiterate central office staffers thihnk we are going to have every one of the classes staffed at 25 students?

President Jackson and the board are going after this.  Watch.


May 15 staffing data for 2018-19 secondary schools available

by Ann Sutherland on 05/17/18

Staff still proposes to reduce secondary school staffing by 153.5 teachers, despite INCREASES in secondary student enrollment.  The data is available on my information page.


Please let your board members know how you feel about these reductions.  Central office functions were increased by $32 million in the current year even as the class sizes increased.  Further  additions are proposed for the next year.

There are NO TEACHER OR PRINCIPAL participants in the preparation of the budget and the board has refused to establish a budget committee.  Thus the budget is 100% created by central office staff.

May 15 staffing data for 2018-19 secondary schools available

by Ann Sutherland on 05/17/18

Staff still proposes to reduce secondary school staffing by 153.5 teachers, despite INCREASES in secondary student enrollment.  The data is available on my information page.


Please let your board members know how you feel about these reductions.  Central office functions were increased by $32 million in the current year even as the class sizes increased.  Further  additions are proposed for the next year.

There are NO TEACHER OR PRINCIPAL participants in the preparation of the budget and the board has refused to establish a budget committee.  Thus the budget is 100% created by central office staff.

Shortage of bus drivers, campus monitors REVISED

by Ann Sutherland on 05/14/18

We are short 28% of our allocated bus drivers and 19% of our campus monitors.  That is 113 unfilled bus drivers and 31 campus monitors.  My comment in the letter to the Star-Telegram was incorrect:  it is not over 100 missing campus monitors.  Sorry for the error.

Neither category is subject to the hiring freeze. Why are kids getting to school and being picked after school late?  Don't we need our campus monitors?

Thanks to a reader for identifying this problem.  

Some staff turnover high in certain schools

by Ann Sutherland on 05/11/18

Keeping staff turnover low contributes to school stability and smooth functioning.  Remember that last year 37 schools had new principals; this was concerning.  


Looking at the school-wide turnover data, high school turnover remains relatively low (generally about 12-13% annually) but a number of middle- and elementary schools had very high levels for the 2016-17 year, as follows.

Forest Oak MS 24.5%
W P McLean MS 26.6%
Wm. Monning MS 23.2%

Elementary schools with high turnover rates were:
West Handley 24.4%
Carroll Peak 26.4%
A M Pate 26.9%
Western Hills 23.1%
Como Elementary 19.3%

I was interested to learn that the central office and satellite operations have a turnover rate similar to the school sites:  13.1% for schools compared to 13.7% in the other offices.  

Of major concern is the huge turnover rate in the transportation department:  We seem to be chronically short of bus drivers for our children.



Palazzolo preliminary hearing set for June 8 in Wise County

by Ann Sutherland on 05/10/18

FWISD's request for this hearing is to address the issue the TX Supreme Court avoided in remanding the case for trial.  The issue is whether statutory filing deadlines were met.  I am told (this is second-hand, not from FWISD staff) that there are two deadlines for the same action.  According to one, we have to go to trial.  According to the other, Mr. Palazzolo's staff failed to file in time and he has no legal cause to action.



Recess may not be cancelled for unruly behavior.

by Ann Sutherland on 05/09/18

Thanks to Asst. Supt.  Karen Molinar for this clarification.


"Policy FFA (LOCAL) prohibits withholding of recess or PE:

 

On page, 5 of 7 #6 goal in the policy is states, “Neither physical education nor physical activity shall be withheld from students or assigned to students as a punishment.”

 

The parent from Tanglewood who spoke on the topic last night has already been 

contacted as well as the Tanglewood principal.  I will also remind our campus administrators of the policy via email and during our May Principals’ Meeting.

Final answer: Fewer students, fewer teachers, more central office dollars AMENDED

by Ann Sutherland on 05/01/18

I met with Dr. Scribner and two of his top staff yesterday.  Secondary course load increases were secretly issued in Fall 2015 but are not being implemented until fall 2018.  This enabled Dr. Washington to say that there are no changes in in the Fall '18 course loads!  (Dr. S and staff didn't know about the 2015 change . . .making me wonder who approves these things . . .)

Recall that we are looking at a $12 million cut in funding, with secondary schools losing $12 million, elementary schools $6 million and the central office GETTING $6 million more.  

Secondary schools are getting a huge caseload increase in core areas, elementary schools are getting fewer students per teacher (a total of 2500 fewer--in effect three elementary schools . . .) and the central office gets $6 million more.  Dr. S and staff say these dollars are for expenses and monitoring.  

In other words, they are spending more dollars monitoring and supplying fewer students and fewer teachers. 

Steven Poole and the other board members are still studying the issue and we have not had a presentation yet at a board meeting.  Dr. Scribner's response is that the central office people (such as the dyslexia teachers) work in the schools.  But the fact remains there are projected to be 211 fewer secondary teachers to teach a small increase in the number of students.

Huge increase in secondary teacher loads would come with 8-period day

by Ann Sutherland on 04/25/18

It looks like another of the "artifacts" of the 8-period day involves more work for teachers.   


Under the 7-period day (Nov 2016 proposal):.  Non-tested content teachers would have 180 students and tested content teachers would have 150..  Based on 4 tested and 3 non-tested student programs, that is an average of 163 students per teacher.

Under the 8-period day (April 16, 2018 proposal), non-tested content teachers would have either 150 or 175 students and tested content teachers would have either 150 or 175.  Based on four tested and four non-tested classes, and averaging the teacher load for each, we see the student load per teacher goes from 163 to 178.75 students per teacher, a NINE PERCENT increase in teacher load.  

Of course, it is impossible to determine an exact increase in the load because each of the 2016 and 2018 proposals have alternatives.  But it could be a lot worse:  at the maximum level in the 2018 proposal, the teacher load would increase to an average of 192 students per teacher.

Similar increases are projected for our middle schools.

Our secondary schools are at a crisis level.  It's hard enough for the board to deal with issues when we get correct information.  But this review of the eight-period day represents a new low in the information and review afforded to the board.  

Your school's budget figures for next year: read it and weep

by Ann Sutherland on 04/22/18

We now have the projected budget figures for each school in the district.  They are are available on the information page of this website.  You will see a significant decrease for nearly all schools.


Some of this is necessary as the district will experience a $12 million decrease in revenue next year.  Yet the reductions to sites total $18 million because the plan is to increase the central office budget by $6 million.  

I hope you will share this with your principals.  

   
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