Sutherland for Schools blog
FWISD, and many districts, awards stipends to teachers in hard-to-fill assignments. The bilingual teachers are one of the groups of teachers that are awarded stipends, but they have not received them, and apparently they do not know what they must do to receive them. Christmas is coming, after all, and recent stipends were $3500.
According to an email from a community member, "these teachers were given the tasks to create projects and/or summaries of what they do in the classroom. The information provided was not very clear and also no specific rubrics given as to what would constitute a satisfactory project to qualify for the stipend.
"Our bilingual teachers are still waiting for those specific rubrics or requirements and it's almost half the year over. Their fear, as has happened in the past, is that they will run into trouble when attempting to earn the stipend by someone deciding that their projects are not adequate and then the year is over."
Staff's response was to ask how many teachers were complaining, and from how many schools. It should have been to respond to the need for information, with a date by which stipends would be released.
Issues like this inevitably arise. Handling them is part of our Baldridge program for improving schools. Let's see how long it takes to solve this one.
Open meetings law requires that all decisions be made openly, which is proper. But board members cannot make reasoned decisions without discussing issues. The result is that all decisions are made by staff, and board members merely ratify them.
The board will make these appointments, but you have to sign up. Here is the application page:
Elementary School Parent
Middle School Parent
High School aren't
Choice/Advanced Academics Parent
Business Representatives (2)
My statement below that you can't quit your existing FWISD plan and take one from the Obamacare exchange isn't quite true. Actually, you CAN do this (and the board will be addressing a policy to permit it as of 1/1/14). BUT if you do this and take an Obamacare plan you will not qualify for any of the subsidies. You will have to figure out whether this is to your advantage or not.
Tuesday the 5th is the big day. Many of us will congregate as the polls close at the McCart training site. Keith Annis of FWISD Parents for Kids posted information on the outside funding--very interesting. http://www.fwisdparentsforkids.org/?page_id=49
The New York Times reported this morning that an estimated 7 million of uninsured Americans will qualify for Obamacare at no cost. This is because the monetary support offered under Obamacare is greater than the cost of the lowest plan.
Readers will remember the concern about the number of classrooms for which there are insufficient substitutes to replace absent teachers. Last year the data showed that teachers were out of the classroom many days when there were not enough substitutes--as many as one in 6 classrooms had no substitute teacher when the teacher was absent.
In the past, city police officers assigned to our middle and high schools were able to issue citations. No more. SB 393, enacted in the last legislative session, hopes to reduce the number of students involved in the criminal justice system.
Now, School Resource Officers (SROs) instead report to the school district, which in turn can choose to follow up or not. Reports are to be made to the central office rather than the school, which "is responsible for filing court complaints if they desire." It is unclear how the school site itself will be informed of the problems.
SROs can still take students into custody and release them to an adult such as the principal.
As yet the Fort Worth ISD has not designated any repository for the complaints filed by the SROs. The end result is that school offenses continue to be committed but there is no longer a process for dealing with these offenses. The situation has already caused anxiety among teachers and could lead to safety concerns.
I raised this issue at the last board meeting and expect a decision to be reported at the November 12 board meeting.
A reader asked about the Superintendent's evaluation, which the board has been working on. We're still working on it, and (believe it or not), stsate law prohibits us from disclosing the findings.
I received this email from one of our clerical staff. He tells me that UEA is having a meeting tomorrow (Thurs). I hope this issue will be discussed.
We need to do some serious thinking about our healthcare plan. Perhaps I should establish a work group on health care. This would be a major study taking month.
When teachers are not even allowed to have annual step raises, as is the case in FWISD, it is especially galling to have many central office staff obtain major increases in salary. A number of these were made without board knowledge.
I received two comments from readers about the unbalanced class sizes at Morningside Elementary. Staff tells me they are looking into it but I have not received confirmation of the problem or what steps are taken to fix it. If other schools have classes that are unbalanced, let me know.
It's hard to tell just how far, because the passing criteria are reduced each year by TEA, but our test scores for 2012-13 look good. Here are the percentages that met standard::