All but five of the 111 Fort Worth ISD employees who were given three resignation options have reapplied for jobs in the district, records obtained by the Fort Worth Report show.
The employees were told to submit their plans for next school year under Fort Worth ISD’s district program change in March. While there are enough openings in the district for all of those people to remain employed by Fort Worth ISD, many are not at the same level of their previous jobs, because some positions were consolidated, Superintendent Angélica Ramsey said.
Employees will remain in their current jobs through the school year and some on two-year contracts will finish out their contract.
The district is downsizing to offset costs and some of the personnel cuts included high-level administration jobs, Ramsey said, including:
- Five from the senior officers and up level – which includes senior officers, assistant superintendent, associate superintendent, chief and deputy positions
- Seven from the executive directors level
- Eight from the directors level
Only three employees said they would retire when they leave the district; the executive director of fine arts, executive director of K-12 math and science, and a coordinator for Fort Worth After School. Two employees — executive director of CTE and a director who did not specify which department — said they would resign.
The Fort Worth Report compiled the average salary and amount of positions cut under the program change through open records requests. It totaled $3.7 million.
Of the recent hires and their salaries, the district will spend $812,000. Under the program change, the district saves around $2.9 million. Superintendent Angélica Ramsey confirmed the number.
Just before spring break in March, Ramsey announced the district would undergo a program change to help rightsize the district amid declining enrollment and offset a multi-million dollar deficit.
She called a meeting with employees in several departments and announced some jobs would be cut as administration is reorganized. Those employees were given three options:
- Resign from the district.
- Resign and reapply for a position in the district under the new program structure.
- Resign and retire with the Teacher Retirement System, the state’s teacher and school employee retirement system.
All employees had to submit a form with their decision to the district by March 27.
What is the Teacher Retirement System?
The Teacher Retirement System is a partially government-funded program for Texas public school employees.
For a public school employee to be eligible for retirement, they must meet one of the following conditions:
• Must be 65 years old with at least five years of service credit, or
• Meet the Rule of 80 (employee’s age and years of service credit total at least 80) and have at least five years of service credit.
Since then, the district has already rehired some employees in similar roles, such as Olayinka Moore-Ojo, executive director of Early Learning and Marta Plata, executive director of Student & Family Experience. Both are working in similar roles in the departments before the program change.
What will the new administration look like?
Under Ramsey’s vision, the staffing at the administrative level in the district will be slimmed down, but still proportionate to the needs of the declining student population.
For example, 36% of the district’s student population is emergent bilingual, which means the Multilingual Education Department will need more people than others, she said.
One department that will be downsized is Fine Arts, Ramsey said. The department used to have an executive director and three directors — the executive director salary was $138,611 and the director salary was $93,047.
Now, the department will have a director and three coordinators, Ramsey said.
“It was just consolidation and a reduction of the layers,” she said.
More changes on the horizon
The current program changes are just phase one of Ramsey’s plans; she expects more cuts in the upcoming years like those with one or two-year contracts.
The district will also have to determine how to spend its remaining ESSER dollars — pandemic funds districts received from the federal government — that must be spent by Sept. 30, 2024. Upcoming staffing will reflect where support is needed the most, Ramsey said. More divisions will be audited over the next few years, Ramsey said.
“We have to get that outside perspective to try to wrap our arms around to really continue making sure we right size and we are nimble enough and we exist to provide service to our schools,” she said.
Now, she said, the district’s main hiring focus is trying to get a certified teacher in every classroom.
As of the May 9 school board meeting, the district had 160 vacancies for teachers. The highest need is special education, which has 39 openings.
“They’re working really hard and we just want to be respectful of the human impact of a reorganization,” Ramsey said.
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.