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Sutherland for Schools blog


by Ann Sutherland on 07/27/14

No public comment posted.

FWISD is now planning to test every THREE weeks????

by Ann Sutherland on 07/25/14

Hard to believe, but my information today is that the district has decided to test kids every 3 weeks on the curriculum and the TEKs, despite a new state law that says they can do only two tests prior to the STAAR.

I have asked for this to be put on the August 12th agenda.

Staff recommending no raise for minimum wage employees

by Ann Sutherland on 07/18/14

Staff has sent us a memo explaining why we plan to exclude our 45 minimum-wage employees from receiving the 3% raise everyone else is to receive.  These workers provide extra help in our cafeterias when it is needed.  The district memo is on the "data" tab.

I have asked President Robbins to prepare an item for board vote on the August 12 agenda, complete with any policy changes needed to make this legal, to reverse the plan to exclude these workers.

I can understand how these workers were initially excluded, since our board policy requires all individuals to receive evaluations prior to receiving salary increases and they do not.  However I am disappointed that staff would try to justify the situation when it is pointed out to them. 

I hope readers will contact their board representatives and tell them they agree also.  

Agenda and board book online for July 15 meeting

by Ann Sutherland on 07/11/14

The agenda and board book are at the data link at the top of the list.

Note that the meeting is at the Professional Development Center on McCart; the board room is undergoing some major renovations.

Included in the agenda is a proposal to add several people to the superintendent search committee (8A, executive session) and a resolution of the New Lives issue (13D).

Stipend Changes--principals, subs, coaches, fine arts

by Ann Sutherland on 06/30/14

Our effort to reduce the number of un-filled classrooms should be decreased this year to only incidental levels.  Regular substitute teachers (not pyramid subs) who work at least 144 days in the 2014-15 year will earn a bonus of $1000.  Also certified substitutes are getting a $10-per-day raise.  

Coaches and Fine Arts teachers will also receive increased stipends.

Principal stipends related to enrollment will be eliminated (I will post an explanation of this tomorrow)

The funding for this and other changes in compensation has been approved.  The final vote on the package will be in August.

$66 million more, not one cent for current classroom relief

by Ann Sutherland on 06/25/14

FWISD's new budget is a model of spending--22 new positions (plus 80 for increased enrollment), plus $21 million in "enhancements".  These are projects dreamed up by central office personnel.  Nothing for more classroom personnel such as aides or smaller classes. 

This means current teachers will have to continue to struggle with the wide range of student abilities, children in crisis, a lock-step curriculum and no aides.

The district projections show we won't have enough money to continue this spending level into the future.  This makes it unlikely there will be any classroom relief in the future either.  A description of the problems is at the "data" tab at "proposed budget changes 6-17-14".

The budget was developed under former superintendent Walter Dansby. Here is the Star-Telegram's front-page article on the budget:

Rules for acceptance into programs and schools of choice

by Ann Sutherland on 06/24/14

A reader asked what the new Applied Learning Center at J T Stevens would operate like.  Here is FWISD staff member Karen Ponder's explanation for all of us:

1 – Families living in the attendance zone will need to apply next year through the Choice application if they wish to participate in the Applied Learning program at JT Stevens.  This is the same process for all other Program of Choice campuses in the district.  Neighborhood students will receive preference in placement through the lottery system.


2 – The applied learning classes will be separate from the general classes.


3 – It is my understanding that JT Stevens will continue to be a Program of Choice campus which means that those wishing to participate in the Applied Learning program (district-wide) will apply, with preference given to neighborhood students.  Neighborhood families who are not interested will still be able to attend the campus without application, as general education students.

June 24 Agenda and backup material online

by Ann Sutherland on 06/20/14


There will be a major report on our new hiring system.  Also the budget will be voted on.

My S-T op-ed: Be skeptical of Dansby's claims

by Ann Sutherland on 06/17/14

This appeared June 17th.
A rebuttal by Dennis Dinkins, Sr. was posted the next day.

Budget workshop Tuesday 6/17

by Ann Sutherland on 06/16/14

The current budget proposal involves very large additions to the budget for a number of new programs.  The total budget increase is $66 million on a 2013-14 budget of $630 million.  The result within 3 years would reduce our reserves dramatically.  In addition, it appears that staffing for our new programs is not included in the out years.

My proposal for a more realistic spending level of $671 million is on the data tab.  I expect to present much of the proposal tomorrow night.

About my "let them eat cake" post

by Ann Sutherland on 06/15/14

Well, I spoke too soon.  It turns out that minimum wage workers did get raises, but only if they had been employed for at least 90 days during the previous year.

I apologize for the misinformation.  My source was reliable but I didn't think about the longevity requirement.   

Congratulations to Norman Robbins

by Ann Sutherland on 06/11/14

Norm Robbins bested the opposition last night and earned a 9-0 vote for president of the FW school board.  Thanks to him and his supporters for giving me the nod for secretary/treasurer.  It kind of undoes the censure of me they voted a year ago.

For Woodway and Alice Carlson people

by Ann Sutherland on 06/10/14

The new principal for Woodway is Brian Johnson.  He is currently an AP in Mansfield; very personable.  I told him what a great job our staff is doing to bring the school forth.

The new principal at Alice Carlson is Janice Harris, whom you already know!

Have a good summer, every one.  I will be posting irregularly this summer.   

Proposed changes in stipends / better sub pay now available

by Ann Sutherland on 06/08/14

These are on the "data" tab.

Also the district is proposing two changes which should increase the availability of substitute teachers:  First, to increase the pay of credentialed substitutes by an additional $10 per day, and second, to award $1000 extra to substitutes who teach 80% of the school year (144 days).  Their calculations indicate that if 100 substitutes work an additional 86 days above the current average to equal the 144-day requirement then unfilled classrooms could be reduced to at least 5%.  

Thanks to compensation specialist Carla Kaufman and CFO Hank Johnson for this.

Meeting Monday 6-9 re selection of interim supt.

by Ann Sutherland on 06/06/14

This meeting will be like the one last Monday; exec session followed by an announcement.