FORT WORTH -- As the school year ended Friday for most Fort Worth school district classes, 215 teachers still don't know where they will be next school year.
Those teachers are declared surplus as the district tightens staffing ratios to help make up for a nearly $41 million shortfall next year.
The teachers are at schools considered overstaffed and will have to find jobs elsewhere in the district.
Teachers were still being notified of their status as late as Friday.
"By lunch, students were coming up to me and had this look of anguish asking me why I chose to leave them," said one high school teacher who did not want to be identified because he is looking for another job within the district. "That's the hardest part for me -- having students not understand the whole procedure and that I wanted to stay at my school."
District officials have said no teachers will be laid off. As of Friday, 180 secondary and elementary teachers were in the surplus pool.
"We're hearing from a lot of teachers who are upset," said Steven Poole, deputy executive director of the United Educators Association, the school employee group. "They form attachments to their individual schools. But we're trying to assure them that they do have a job. We just don't know where yet."
District officials did not return calls seeking comment but wrote in an e-mail that principals will fill vacancies from the surplus teacher pool in coming weeks. Officials referred to Superintendent Walter Dansby's statement to staff: "We have implemented staffing ratios on every campus and identified teachers who will be reassigned to schools where they are most needed and can be effective in raising the academic success of our children. ... We hope to eventually place all of these teachers in permanent positions through attrition and identifying job openings that match their expertise."
Pool said some teachers worry that there will not be enough vacancies in the right positions for all. However, Poole said he hopes that everyone can be placed.
He also said his group is working with a few middle- and high-school coaches who are concerned that they are being unfairly targeted for surplus after declining requests to take on additional sports or after requesting to be relieved of some coaching duties.
The district's policy says staff will be selected for surplus based on the academic needs of the school, program needs of the school, certification/specialized skills or training and continuous experience with the district.
To minimize layoffs, the district offered bonuses of up to $10,000 to teachers who gave early notice of resigning or retiring at the end of this school year. The district's staffing situation was further complicated this year when officials made a $13 million mistake in which they hired about 200 too many secondary teachers.