Fort Worth schools to launch sweeping districtwide reorganization

FORT WORTH -- New school Superintendent Walter Dansby has launched a major districtwide structural reorganization that includes eliminating teaching specialists, instructional coaches and lead content teacher positions.

Details are to be presented at tonight's school board meeting.

Some aspects -- such as creating "learning networks" organized by attendance-zone pyramids -- are still being worked out, officials said Monday. The networks are intended to give more support to schools struggling academically, they said.

The positions of about 160 elementary literacy and math coaches and about another 160 "lead content teachers" -- who work in math, science, English language arts and social studies at secondary schools -- will be eliminated, administrators said Monday. That will save about $8.6 million.

Another 60 positions for teachers on special assignments and specialists in special education and English as a second language/bilingual also will be eliminated. Most of the positions will be replaced in the new learning networks for a total net decrease of 16 positions. That would be about $1 million in savings.

Chief Academic Officer Michael Sorum said affected employees have been notified that they may need to apply for other positions in the district. Most of them have continuing contracts, he said. In general, school districts must declare a state of financial emergency to lay off employees with such contracts. The Fort Worth district has made that emergency declaration for three years straight.

Sorum said administrators hope that those affected -- all of whom have teacher certification -- can fill positions elsewhere.

"It is not our intention for anyone to be out of a job," Sorum said. "We've planned through reorganization and retirement and resignations to have positions available."

Parent Jacqueline Bender said she was concerned to learn that her children's school -- Burton Hill Elementary -- would lose its math coach.

"It's the extras that he provides in making math fun and understandable," Bender said. "It's important -- especially in elementary school -- to get that solid foundation."

The ongoing constriction of state school funding limits the district's resources, Sorum said. The district needs to cut $30 million going into next year's budget.

"You can't just keep cutting and expect it" not to affect services, Sorum said. "This will be a big shift for elementary schools, but we will still provide services to our schools that need it most."

Schools struggling academically will get additional support through the new learning networks, he said.

Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700

Twitter: @fwstayala

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