Education

Teachers worry about jobs as Fort Worth school district makes reassignments

A sign north of State Highway 9 on the west side of Interstate 35 near Norman, Okla., beckons Oklahoma teachers to Fort Worth, Texas, with the promise of higher pay, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. (Kyle Phillips/The Norman Transcript via AP),
A sign north of State Highway 9 on the west side of Interstate 35 near Norman, Okla., beckons Oklahoma teachers to Fort Worth, Texas, with the promise of higher pay, Wednesday, May 9, 2018. (Kyle Phillips/The Norman Transcript via AP),

The Fort Worth school district is reassigning about 150 teachers — a move that has left many educators scratching their heads as it comes at the same time an advertising campaign asks Oklahoma teachers to consider crossing the Red River to work in Cowtown.

District officials have stressed that no teachers will lose their paychecks as some are moved to campuses where there is higher need. However, teachers have been upset.

"It has caused a lot of chaos," said Steven Poole, executive director of the United Educators Association of Texas. He added that the district's handling of this yearly budget issue could have been managed better.

Poole said the district's move to reassign teachers at the same time it worked to attract educators outside of Texas caused hurt feelings. Additionally, it comes as teachers were administering the state's accountability tests and wrapping up the school year.

District officials have said their efforts to attract new teachers doesn't mean the "surplused" teachers would lose their paychecks.

The district put up billboards in Norman, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Stillwater with a message to teachers: "Your Future is in a Fort Worth Classroom — Teacher Starting Salary $52,000."

Next week, the district launches a similar campaign in Phoenix, Ariz. That campaign includes five billboards for $10,000, according to school district spokesman Clint Bond. The Oklahoma billboard campaign cost $20,000 for 10 billboards, he said.

Two teachers from Oklahoma have been hired by Fort Worth schools since the campaign was launched, according to the district.

Cynthia Rincon, chief of Human Capital Management for Fort Worth schools, said 150 teachers are being "surplused," or reassigned to other positions. Last year, the district reassigned 175 teachers through this process, she said.

Rincon said the two efforts don't contradict each other in the district's overall planning for next year. That's because every year changes in academic programs and changes in enrollment mean the district has to meet evolving needs across the district, she said. Additionally, every year about 500 teachers retire or resign.

"This happens every year," Rincon said, stressing that these teachers are guaranteed jobs with the district. She said principals have been working to help fit teachers with open slots while also matching needs with teachers' professional certification.

Rincon said some teachers have already landed new positions and they hope to have most placed in June.

Rincon said that under board policy teachers' job placement is determined by academic needs, certification and seniority. Rincon said she hopes teachers stick with the district.

"We appreciate everything they do for the kids," she said.

The Fort Worth school district has 5,789 teachers. Last school year, the district had more than 86,000 students.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

In the proposed FWISD $749.7 million bond package about $34 million would pay for improvements to Dunbar High School. The district wants to modernize learning spaces used for career and tech programs at all the high schools. There are about 18,000

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