Fort Worth school layoffs more likely as too few teachers plan to leave

FORT WORTH -- The number of teachers the Fort Worth school district needs to leave in order to avoid possible layoffs is coming up short.

The key shortfall was in secondary schools, where the school district overhired 200 teachers this year.

Wednesday was the deadline for employees to give early notification that they would be retiring or resigning at the end of this year and earn bonuses worth 10 percent of their base salary.

Officials say 400 secondary teachers, 200 elementary teachers and 100 other degreed professionals needed notify the district early that they would not be returning next year in order to minimize layoffs. By Wednesday, officials had 151 secondary, 193 elementary teachers and 62 other professionals.

Employees can still receive an "early notification" bonus, but it has now decreased to 5 percent if done by March 21.

"We had a number of people retire and resign when we offered the bonus last year, so to me, I can see that it's hard for people to resign now unless they are ready to retire or already have another job planned," said Samuel Monge, assistant superintendent of human capital management. "I don't anticipate a large increase after this, because if you were able to do it, you already did to get the maximum 10 percent."

However, Larry Shaw, executive director of the United Educators Association, which represents area school employees, said he hopes some teachers will decide to step down during the coming months.

"Well, I think that goal was high to begin with, but I still think we're looking pretty good because a lot of people can change their minds between now and August because a lot of people find out late in spring that their spouses are moving jobs or they get pregnant and decide to take a year off," Shaw said.

Monge said it's not yet known whether the district will be forced to lay off teachers. He said the district will need to replace some of the teachers leaving, depending on what they teach and specific certification.

"If everything lines up, and they are in the right areas, then we're in good shape," Monge said. "If not in the areas where we're looking to cut, then that will make our task more difficult."

Monge said officials hope to know by April 10 whether layoffs will be necessary. Monge added that unless numbers change dramatically, it is unlikely that the district will hire teachers through its contracts with Teach For America or the Texas Teaching Fellows. Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700

Twitter: @fwstayala

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