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Sutherland for Schools blog

Feb 9 board book

by Ann Sutherland on 02/06/16

The board book is on the Information page.  I don't have information about the proposed reorganization; we will have to wait until Tuesday to hear Dr. Scribner's plans.

Superintendent proposes redirection of resources on Feb 9 agenda

by Ann Sutherland on 02/05/16

The major item on this agenda will be a report by Supt. Scribner on his proposed reduction of central office staff to schools, involving a potential reduction in force  This means reduced staff in the central office and possibly layoffs.  

Other Agenda items will include:
--graphing calculators @ $1,300 each
--Football helmet inspection, testing and reconditioning (but only up to $61,000)
--Adding another $150,000 to central office administration, partly by reducing  
$40,000 in instructional services.
--A report by superintendent proposing redirections of resources to benefit schools.  This also includes an executive session item discussing Reduction in Force (that means layoffs of certificated staff) based on program change
--Approval of waiver days
--Minor boundary changes involving South Hills and Southwest High Schools

This agenda is available on the FWISD board page at the "video" link on the left-hand column.

You can vote on next year's calendar!

by Ann Sutherland on 01/21/16

Several readers have complained about the current calendar which shortens the first semester and pushes finals into the week before Winter Break.

In response, Superintendent Scribner offers you a chance to vote.  The link is 

FLASH! SCAs no longer required in most schools

by Ann Sutherland on 01/14/16

In response to comments on this blog re the paper required for SCAs, Dr. Sorum informed me that they are NO LONGER REQUIRED by the central office.

If you are in one of our 29 Improvement Required schools, the state requires monthly reports on student progress.  Dr. Sorum said most principals use SCAs for this purpose, and the district supplies paper for this.

Principals NOT at IR schools can decide on their own to continue them.  If they wish to continue requiring teachers to perform this worthless task, they can so  notify the central office and paper will be allocated for this purpose.

BTW, I believe the site based committees should be involved in the decision to continue or discontinue them in the schools which are not IRs.

Part of the reason our board is lacking in leadership at times is withholding information like this.  This issue was brought up several times last year.

Also BTW, technically speaking the SCAs still violate HB 5 which outlaws more than two exams per year based on the TEKS.  

Meanwhile the state is requiring these reports.  I guess this means that TEA is violating HB 5 in requiring monthly reports in IR schools.

Still another example of the erosion in local control that is strangling our schools.

Revised title) SCAs could be contributing to paper shortage.

by Ann Sutherland on 01/12/16

Our bloated curriculum department has managed to cause even further problems for our teachers.  Not only are they continuing to "require" the hated SCAs (which are illegal under state law as they involve more than two tests per year of TEKS), they are now "saving" money by requiring teachers to copy them. Is there a single principal with the courage to cancel this?

This from a FWISD teacher:

I watched the board meeting where ADQ stated the district was reducing testing and thus saving money from not printing tests.

However the truth is that they "ADQ" may have reduced their printing costs of tests from their own budget....but the individual campus had to absorb those costs.

Each campus has been responsible for printing student sca tests for every student ever sca........ whereas before they were printed by the district and sent to the school.

Today we are being issued individual copy numbers due to the excess of printing on campus.   I believe the SCA tests that are being printed on campus are the cause of this .......

January 12 agenda available

by Ann Sutherland on 01/08/16

This agenda is available on the board page.  I think it is on video on demand.

In my opinion the most interesting item is a discussion of Robert's Rules of Order and the state open meetings law, which I have asked for.

The draft agenda places it at the bottom, after a 1-hour hearing.  

I have complained.  We will see what happens.

Let's stop assaults on our campuses

by Ann Sutherland on 01/06/16

Here is my Star-Telegram letter, published yesterday:

Assaulting teachers

Assaulting a public servant is a third degree felony, as TCU quarterback Trevor Boykin learned.

Too bad Fort Worth school district staff doesn’t get the same protection.

Neither students who assault teachers nor teachers who assault students are properly handled.

A middle school teacher was assaulted by a student early this year, sending the teacher to the hospital.

The teacher has a damaged shoulder. The assaulting student? Three days’ suspension.

Violence is violence.


Read more here:


Segregation of ELLS from others in our elementary schools

by Ann Sutherland on 12/17/15

We all know that early childhood years are the most important to our children. Perhaps even more significant than our academic training are the worldview and the individual child's self-image of his place in the world which is formed during these years.

I recently learned that almost all English Language Learners in grades K-5 may be in segregated classes.   (In one analysis, over HALF of all ELLs in "Dual Language" classes had NO English-only students, and out of the 92 classes there were only 42-non ELLs to blend with 2,000 English language learners.*

Also concerning is that many of our Dual Language teachers are uncredentialled, some having failed the bilingual test multiple times.

Surely this segregation inhibits the assimilation of our two cultures. It can't be good for either the ELLS or the remainder of the student body.

*this is based on a review of the 2014-15 list of DL classes which exceeded the 22-student limit.  See "Action Agenda Item," FWISD board packet, October 14, 2014, p. 74.

Post-legislative briefing Dec 15

by Ann Sutherland on 12/10/15

There will be a briefing at 5 p.m. at the board meeting.  Marty DeLeon, who represents quite a few school boards, will do the briefing.

The agenda and documents are on the FWISD website

by Ann Sutherland on 12/07/15

They are at the Board site under Video on Demand.  

I will ask that the labeling be a little clearer.  But I am glad they are posting this again.

Thanks to Info for this tip.  

Dec 8 Agenda and Board book STILL not available

by Ann Sutherland on 12/04/15

Readers, I can't get this agenda to load--sorry.

It will include a presentation by Supt. Scribner on our plans for next year, a proposal to amend current policy on child abuse and neglect, and a report on our Chesapeake lawsuit (which is scheduled for exec session only).

As of Saturday evening it's still not working (see nice note below).  I installed Windows 10 and am having a terrible time with the interface w/Chrome.

SE cites need for response from Dr. Scribner and from me

by Ann Sutherland on 11/19/15

SE writes:

A month later and still no comment! You do realize that this just further       
frustrates an already poor morale? Perhaps the need for more substitutes would  
be diminished if we considered working on fixing what is REALLY broke around    
here! I remember that Dr. Scribner said, "You must earn the right to       
lead!" Okay, so how long must we wait for clean up? Personally, I think    
our district moves slower than congress! Most of us just want to know when will 
he reach out to teachers? Will he give us an opportunity to speak? If we plan   
on just continuing with the way things are, just say so and we will quit        
anticipating and consequently no longer bother you with requests asking for...  
Please just show us the respect of an answer either way. 

Many problems with testing and calendar are noted

by Ann Sutherland on 11/06/15

Parents are writing about the change in the FWISD calendar and the testing regimen.  See below.

Agenda and Board book for Nov 10 meeting

by Ann Sutherland on 11/06/15

These are available on the "information" tab of this website.

Sub shortages are unnecessary!

by Ann Sutherland on 11/06/15

Based on last year's data, I estimate that 10,000 classrooms will be without substitutes this year.  These classes are either placed in adjacent rooms, or filled with teachers who are having their planning hour.  This happens every day, impacts every child and contributes greatly to teacher burn-out.  Last year we hired 800 new teachers.

The district deliberately hires fewer substitutes than are required in order to save money.  There are plenty of applicants.

How much would it cost to hire teachers for these classes?  I estimate about $800,000 per year.

We spend $2.8 million in federal funds for learning networks people.

Having enough substitutes so that teachers don't have to "double up" or forfeit their planning periods is more important.