Reporting Melissa Newton
We created this interactive map to accompany our online and television coverage of the budget shortfall’s impact on area school districts. It allows you to track how much less each school district would receive based on the first draft of the state’s budget.
FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - The Fort Worth Independent School District is increasing the financial incentive for teachers who give early notice of their intention to resign this year.
It’s the district’s way of avoiding at least some employee cuts due to the looming budget crisis.
The district is looking at a potential $80 million shortfall due to proposed state cutbacks on public education.
Many teachers and other school employees are reading between the lines.
“My heart just aches,” said Trimble Tech teacher Beverly Stergeos. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. The state has just got to come up with a better deal.”
Payroll makes up 85% of the district’s budget. In an effort to save as many jobs as possible, FWISD is offering $1,000 to the first 300 Chapter 21 teachers who declare their intention to resign or retire at the end of this year. The incentive was previously set at $500.
The district is also now offering a $500 incentive to the first 300 hourly or at-will employees to do the same.
The deadline to qualify for the financial incentive is 5:00p.m., March 11, 2010.
The earlier the district knows the number of teachers who are retiring or resigning, the better equipped the board will be at determining cuts during the budget process, said district spokesman Clint Bond.
“If people will let us know earlier what their intentions are than we can make some decisions that might not affect as many people as we otherwise would have to do,” Bond said.
“Scary situation for teachers, for administration and for parents too,” said Larry Shaw of the United Educators Association of Texas. This is by far the worst. On a scale of 1-10 this is about an 8, we’ve seen 2’s and 3’s but this is about an 8. This is for real.”
“I had thought about it prior to that all coming down,” said Stergeos, who is retiring after 35 years as a teacher. “I just thought it’s time for the new people to come in and take my place.”
Stergeos is one of 50 teachers who has already announced retirement plans and qualified for the incentive.
The district is hoping many more veteran teachers follow suit.
“That could save somebody else’s job if they walk away voluntarily,” Bond said.
While the voluntary departures may prevent some layoffs, with massive budget cuts looming many still fear a lot of talented teachers will be forced out of the classroom.
“How can you lay off all your new teachers with all their enthusiasm and energy?” Stergeos questioned, “Then in three years what are they going to do?”