Ft. Bend ISD teachers reduced by 7 percent

April 8, 2011 4:39:42 PM PDT
It's been a rough year for school districts, figuring out how to deal with an expected drop in funds from the state. As we've reported, it's forced many districts to lay off employees and now we're hearing from Fort Bend ISD's school board president about the difficult process. Fort Bend ISD has specific policies in place that lay out what it considers in deciding whether to keep a teacher on. The school board president says though, it's never an easy decision.

When you're the president of the school board and there's not enough money to go around, deciding who to fire and how to do so is no easy task.

"The most important thing is the students. We live in the state of Texas, but we can't live in the state of denial," said Fort Bend ISD Board President Sonal Bhucar. "It's always difficult because we value our staff."

At a special board meeting Monday night, the school board voted not to renew 68 teachers. When you figure in attrition and voluntary retirement or resignation, so far nearly 500 Fort Bend ISD school district positions have been eliminated. That's a 7 percent reduction in teachers district wide.

And that's left some parents with questions about the process.

"Which teachers we let go, which ones stay based on what?" said parent Carl Bradford.

Bhucar says administrators consider four key things when deciding whether to keep a teacher: certification, performance assessment/appraisal, professional development, and seniority.

Ultimately the board approves or denies those recommendations from the administrators.

"In all of this, who misses out is the students," said Bhucar.

Fort Bend ISD is anticipating a budget shortfall somewhere between $30 and $74 million. With no new taxes and no new revenues, they know class sizes will increase. Bhuchar says they will attempt to keep core class sizes lower, increasing sizes of elective classes. But some programs may be eliminated.

"The level of service that we offer in public education and in Fort Bend ISD will certainly change and will never be the same again," said Bhucar.

One thing they're considering to keep is that some extracurricular activities will require students to pay to play. But that brings up an entirely different issue if a child wants to play, but can't afford it.

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