Reason #2: Why your classes are so crowded and hard to manage : Sutherland for Schools blog
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Reason #2: Why your classes are so crowded and hard to manage

by Ann Sutherland on 11/23/18

Regular readers of this column will remember that the superintendent and cabinet took $30 million in services and staff away from the principals and have moved control over it into the central office.  Part of this involved in stripping our secondary schools of nearly 250 teachers over the last two years.*  Please note that existing plans involve taking another 100 core teachers over each of  the next 3 years.

You also remember that President Jackson, First VP Sims and I voted against the budget because of this and because last year's budget was posted to have a $53 million deficit (per June 5, 2018 board presentation).

You saw at the last meeting that the 2017-18 audit was approved without a single comment from either staff or board members (I missed this meeting).

NOW WE LEARN from this silently-approved audit of the 2017-18 budget that there was actually a substantial surplus for 2017-18.  Basically there is plenty for the 18-19 budget to operate with no reductions in secondary core staffing.   In other words, the district's estimate of the 2017-18 fiscal year expenditures, showing a deficit,  was off by $76 million, although the staff cut that to $53 million after they transferred $23+ million in bond funds.**

FWISD and other major districts' estimates of the necessary reserves dictate a reserve of two months' expenditures, which is $127 million.  Ha ha.  We now have $86 million extra in reserves.  

Our budget office has been hiding money from the board at least from 2010, as I commented repeatedly even during my first campaign for the board.  We have actually ended the year with surpluses, not deficits as the board has been told.

It's getting worse.  

Think of that, parents and school site staff.  They aren't even spending the money.  Just keeping it.
*Teachers are budgeted at $65,000 per teacher; 65,000 X 250 = $16 million.
**Yes, bond funds.  Think of this as you bemoan the extra money going to schools in your 2018 property taxes which you will be paying very soon.  

Comments (8)

1. fed-up said on 11/23/18 - 03:38PM
This is the same board that rubber stamped the supers $25,000.00 bonus. Is it too late to get that money back because obviously he's either in on the deception or so incompetent that he doesn't deserve it. I'm no lawyer but this sounds like a criminal case. Some law has to have been broken when you are speaking of this much money over such a long period of time
2. Voice said on 11/26/18 - 08:54AM
So maybe now you will demand an accounting of the legal fees FWISD has spent on Palazzolo's case? And the Board Members who did know? After all you didn't REALLY believe TASB would keep funding endless appeals after dropping FWISD for not settling before the trial - did you?
3. Too Much Money said on 11/28/18 - 10:01PM
I'm sure that the man is involved. I had a feeling something was going on and it sounds like something that occurs in a neighboring city.
4. Conservative said on 11/29/18 - 06:59PM
What accounting system does the district use? Where is board oversight? I cringe to think that you will be gone. We need board members that will not just rubber stamp administrative decisions that harm students. Students that can’t read are not good for Fort Worth.
5. Ann replies to Conservative said on 11/29/18 - 09:02PM
There is no effective countering to any superintendent in this district. The board doesn't even have a finance committee and our only professional staff member is a part-time attorney. In the past we have had effective superintendents, but I do not see the setting the these days as being conducive to input from different sectors of the community necessary to keep the district operating anything like optimally. The situation is greatly exacerbated by other factors in society which cannot be addressed in the existing setting. As I mentioned elsewhere, 9000 children left the district last year to attend other educational institutions. The number of children who leave is likely to increase so that the percentage of challenging students will continue to increase. Despite what the district says, our major yardstick of growth, the percentage of third grade children who can read at grade level, has not increased beyond 33%.
6. CJMMGS said on 12/2/18 - 07:14AM
It is interesting that in a school district the size of FWISD with almost a $1billion dollar general fund budget no one can, by school especially the CFO, communicate via transparency how FTEs are derived for core and non-core classes. Or will not provide the methodology to do so. It would probably cause WW3 among the teachers and parents. There is not an equitable distribution of FTEs. FWISD method is very simple...those who yell the loudest get to keep their FTEs for their child school. Where does that lead. Tarrant county one of the fastest growing counties in the United States still has enrollment declines year after year. That is crazy. Ann does a good job of sounding the alarm. The problem is you don't have a Finance department who 1) does not understands the underlying metrics to allocate FTEs much less 2) communicates clearly how that is done. Another year will go by where Finance is taking out $50 million from the bond election to pay down operating deficits so that they can say they are maintaining the general fund balance as required. Does that sound like FWISD administration is being fiscal responsible.
7. CJMMGS said on 12/2/18 - 07:21AM
I created an effective countering to the problems at FWISD while working at Saint Paul Public Schools. The problem is those in charge want to only make sure it is not brought out and counter what Finance does to calculate the budget. I would like to invite anyone interested in seeing the "counter" to email me The problem is the CFO who is an attorney looks at the "counter" as her competition...not looking out for the best interest of the students of FWISD is she?
8. Curiouser said on 12/17/18 - 09:59PM
And you gave the boss of them another bonus and a contract extension. Great job, board. Same ol’ same ol’. What other excuses will you make?

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