FORT WORTH -- Three weeks before classes start, the Fort Worth school district is hustling to hire teachers and classroom assistants to replace employees who left the district over the summer.
The school district stressed that the teaching jobs -- elementary, bilingual and special-education teachers -- are not new positions, but openings that were created after current employees retired or resigned. The positions are already accounted for in the 2012-13 budget, district spokesman Clint Bond said.
"We are not adding any additional teachers. All we're doing is backfilling those spots that came open during the summer," Bond said. "We're in good condition because sometimes there have been times where we're [hiring] right up until the last week but we're not there now."
The district is not releasing the number of employees who will be hired or how many teachers are needed in each area, Bond said.
The move comes weeks after the school board agreed to lay off 84 staffers, including teacher aides and library clerks. About half of those have been hired back. Others are being notified they can reapply to get their jobs back, Bond said.
No certified teachers were laid off this year, but some teachers were placed in a surplus pool. Administrators have been placing those teachers in other jobs as they become available and now are hiring from outside the district, Bond said.
In the spring, the district offered a bonus of up to $10,000 to the first 600 teachers and 100 degreed professionals who notified officials early that they would not return. And other educators left the district, creating the unfilled positions.
Steven Poole, executive director of the Fort Worth-based United Educators Association, said the last-minute hiring is "not unusual" and said other North Texas districts are hiring to make sure they are fully staffed.
School Trustee Ann Sutherland said she welcomed the move. She had criticized the layoffs of aides, rather than making cuts in the central office staff.
"They've placed all of the teachers that were surplus. What pleased me the most is it appears that we are going to hire most of the aides that we laid off. I was very concerned about them. I thought it was imprudent to lay off people who make $25,000 a year," she said Wednesday.
School board President T.A. Sims voiced similar sentiments.
"Basically I think that if we have a need for teachers it is a good thing that we can hire them back," Sims said.
The first day of school is Aug 27. For the second year in a row, teachers won't have a district-wide convocation gathering. Employees will watch a videotaped message Aug. 20, giving them more time to prepare their classrooms.
This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.