Inside FWISD February 15, 2018

Dear Colleagues:

Once again we are immensely saddened by the loss of innocent lives in yesterday's tragic shooting in Florida. As the headline in today's Star-Telegram said, there are "no words" to express our horror. Schools must be among the safest places for our children and adults who serve them.

Several years ago we implemented a Fort Worth Police Department training program entitled "Avoid, Deny, Defend" to prepare for a worst-case scenario here. We will revisit that training across the District, asking our team to review and reinforce all safety procedures on and around our campuses.

We must renew our commitment to a strong and safe school community. Additionally, we must support the social and emotional health of children and adults through communication and vigilance.

The Fort Worth ISD will fly all flags at half-staff in honor of the Florida school victims until sunset on Monday, February 19.


Stand-Out FWISD Employee Serves Students Much More than Lunch

It is more important than ever to have a culture of community on our campuses. Superintendent Kent P. Scribner recently visited a District employee whose love for students – and all people – shines through.

She’s Cathy Roseberry, Nutrition Services Manager at McLean Middle School, whose engaging manner and big heart will win you over in Dr. Scribner’s February video message to teachers and staff.

“When honors are handed out for student success, there’s a whole group of women and men in our District who don’t always get the recognition they deserve,” says Dr. Scribner. “We wanted this message to be about them.”

He is referring to the people who really keep our schools working and who also take care of our students – not only cafeteria crews, but also custodians, campus monitors, bus drivers, office staff and others.


The Fort Worth ISD community is invited to participate in the 2018 Fort Worth ISD Stakeholders’ Climate Survey. Everyone, from elementary students to the community at large, is encouraged to take the online survey. The survey results will provide rich data about the current climate and culture in Fort Worth ISD. The District will use this and other data when making future key decisions. Stakeholders can take the survey from February 12 – March 9.

The survey is open to students in grades three through 12; parents and guardians; school administrators at all levels; all teachers; non-instructional staff; central administration and district staff; and the community at large.

The survey will cover engagement, safety and environment. The engagement section will include cultural and linguistic competence, relationships and school participation. The safety section will include items about bullying, emotional safety and physical safety. The items about environment will address instructional, physical, discipline and mental health.

Dr. Stacy M. Burrell of the Grants Compliance and Monitoring Department said the survey data will provide information about what is working well and will identify critical gaps and opportunities for improvement.

“This process provides a lens into the thinking and perceptions of our stakeholders in which improvement strategies can be developed and successes can be celebrated,” Dr. Burell said. “Survey results will also establish a ‘Culture of Conversations with Data’ that is based upon best practices,” she said.

The District can use the survey data to help make decisions in a variety of areas, including Campus Needs Assessments and Campus Educational Improvement Plans. Data will be available in an online reporting tool that can easily make District-level and school-level comparisons. It is important for the District to have as many people participate in the survey as possible in order to have enough data when making future decisions.

“Collecting perception data benefits District and school leadership in an ongoing continuous process, and all stakeholders play a part,” Dr. Burrell said.

For information about the survey contact the Grants Compliance and Monitoring Department at 817-814-2575 or via e-mail at AskEval@fwisd.org.

FWISD Finalizes Traditional 2018-2019 School Calendar

The traditional 2018-2019 school calendar is set.

On Tuesday, February 13, the Fort Worth Board of Education unanimously approved the calendar for the upcoming school year.

The 2018-2019 year will officially start Monday, August 20, and tentatively conclude Friday, May 31, 2019, if the District completes the year with unused snow days. Two snow days, June 4 and 5, are built into the calendar in the event FWISD closes for inclement weather and must make up school days.

Nearly 3,500 people recently participated in a survey to select the waiver-day schedule for the 2018-2019 school year. Waiver days are scheduled for: October 8, January 8 and February 1. The scheduled dates are staff days, and there is no school for students.

Other important dates noted on the traditional 2018-2019 school calendar include:

  • Labor Day, Monday, September 3
  • Thanksgiving Break, Monday, November 19- Friday, November 23
  • Fall Semester Ends, Friday, December 21
  • Winter Break, Monday, December 24, 2018- Friday, January 4, 2019
  • Teacher Prep Day, Monday, January 7 (No school for students)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 21, 2019
  • Spring Break, Monday March 11- Friday, March 15, 2019
  • Good Friday, Friday, April 19, 2019
  • Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2019

All schools operate on at least a seven-hour day. This ensures that students are in school for at least 75,600 minutes as required by Texas Education Code statute.

Board Authorizes Dr. Scribner to Execute Purchase Agreement with Congregation Ahavath Shalom for New Elementary School

The Fort Worth ISD Board of Education has authorized Superintendent Kent P. Scribner to execute an agreement with Congregation Ahavath Shalom to purchase a parcel of land that will be used to construct a new elementary school that will alleviate overcrowding at nearby Tanglewood Elementary.

The 6-acre site costs an estimated $6.8 million. Board of Education members approved the authorization 5-0 at a meeting, Tuesday, February 13.

"From the very beginning we had hoped to arrive at a fair resolution that is amicable to all parties," said Dr. Scribner. "We are pleased for our children that this agreement provides a path for us to move forward with our design and construction plans."

Platting must also be approved by the City of Fort Worth.

In the $750 million bond approved by voters last November, the District designated $28 million for the construction of a new elementary school in the Tanglewood attendance boundary.


Fort Worth ISD is observing African American History Month by celebrating, remembering and reflecting on the contributions of District heroes.

Throughout February, we will share photographs and stories of prominent figures and notable alumni in FWISD history in the weekly Inside FWISD newsletter and on FWISD social media platforms.

Today, we celebrate Regina Farr Ross.

Born July 4, 1914, Ms. Ross attended what was then called the Ninth Ward Colored School and graduated from I.M. Terrell High School.

Lovingly known to friends and relatives as "Big Mama," Ms. Ross worked for several local restaurants. She worked 37 years at Cattleman's Steak House before retiring at the age of 80.

As a young woman, she was an active member of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). She made multiple trips to the East Coast campaigning for lower utility rates for senior citizens. Family members say she also spent time as a volunteer teaching young children to read.

Annually on her birthday, a big community party was held on Prospect Avenue. On her 100th birthday, the milestone was celebrated with proclamations from state and national dignitaries including former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

Ms. Ross died at the age of 103, Wednesday January 31, at her home in Fort Worth. News of her death was reported by local print and TV news outlets who called her "the matriarch of a family and of a Fort Worth generation." Ms. Ross was laid to rest on Saturday, February 10.

She is survived by five daughters, two sons, and hundreds of grand, great, great-great and great-great-great grandchildren.

Bayard H. Friedman Chair for Teaching Excellence in Performing Arts and Broadway at the Bass Chair for Teaching Excellence in Theater and Dance Applications

Applications for the Bayard H. Friedman Chair for Teaching Excellence in Performing Arts and the Broadway at the Bass Chair for Teaching Excellence in Theater and Dance are now being accepted. The eligibility requirements and application form can be found on the Community and Strategic Partnerships page.

In 1999, Performing Arts Fort Worth established the Bayard H. Friedman Chair for Teaching Excellence in Performing Arts, which annually recognizes and rewards an exemplary Fort Worth Independent School District teacher in the area of general, choral or instrumental music. The current Chair is Adam Kramer, band director at Wedgwood Middle School and Southwest High School.

In 2016, Performing Arts Fort Worth added the Broadway at the Bass Chair for Teaching Excellence in Theater and Dance, rewarding teachers in either of these two areas. The current and the inaugural Chair is Rachel Wade, dance teacher at Arlington Heights High School.

"The ability to ignite a lifelong appreciation of the performing arts requires a teacher of uncommon talent and uncompromising standards," said Elaine Agather, Performing Arts Fort Worth chairwoman. "As a FWISD teacher of the performing arts, your effect on both the children you teach today, and the artists, teachers and audiences of tomorrow cannot be overstated."

Applications must be submitted to the Department of Community and Strategic Partnerships by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, 2018. Applications may be submitted electronically to Danielle Stenger at danielle.stenger@fwisd.org or submitted online per the directions on the application.


Yvonne Garcia Huizar, District operations coordinator, is running this year’s Cowtown ultra-marathon with purpose.

Garcia Huizar’s story of running the race in memory of her father was recently featured in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

For a decade, she’s run marathons, but this will be her first 31-mile ultra-marathon. She intends to run with a picture of her father on her pace bracelet, according to the Star-Telegram.

The 40th Cowtown kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday, February 24, with a 10K and adult and child 5K races. Half, full and ultra-marathon races will get underway at 7 a.m. Sunday, February 25.

Thousands from FWISD to Participate in Cowtown Festivities

Nearly 2,400 students from approximately 60 FWISD schools are expected to participate in The Cowtown Kids 5K later this month. Close to a dozen District personnel make up a team called the Fort Worth ISD Movers, which will participate in The Cowtown Adult 5K.

Both 3.1-mile races will take place Saturday, February 24. Each race starts and ends at Will Rogers Memorial Center on Gendy Street.

The 40th Cowtown kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday, February 24, with a 10K, followed by adult and child 5K races. Half, full and ultra-marathon races will get underway at 7 a.m. Sunday, February 25.

Runners from around the country and the world participate in a number of Cowtown races including the 5K events, 10K, half marathon, marathon and ultra-marathon. This is the largest multi-race event in North Texas.

Cowtown Fort Worth and Mayor Betsy Price provided free shoes to students at Burton Hill Elementary School, Wednesday, February 14 for the Cowtown Kids 5K. Students who signed up for the Cowtown shoe grant received a free pair of shoes.

The Cowtown is a nonprofit which donates proceeds from each race to purchasing a pair of running shoes for low-income North Texas youth and offers a reduced entry fee to children participating in the Kids 5K. Many of the FWISD schools participating in this year's Cowtown have students who've benefited from the program's generosity.

For more details, visit cowtownmarathon.org.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Ask Elsie is a column where Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro tackles employee queries or, in areas outside her purview, asks other District leaders to answer them.

Dear Elsie,

Can I print my W-2 from your website? If yes, please give the links and any passwords I might need. I was employed by FWISD until July 2017.


Ron Pyle

Dear Ron,

Thank you for your question.

Inactive employees do not have access to the Employee Self-Serve system. Your W-2 was mailed to the address on file with FWISD. If you need a copy of your W-2, please contact the FWISD Payroll Department at 817-814-2197.

Thanks again,


Dear Elsie,

I have worked for FWISD for about 25 years.

I do not remember ever having a net raise. I have been operating at a net loss each year for years now. The following impacts my net paycheck loss every year:

tax increases (house property, income tax, etc.); inflation; benefit premium increases (This year I pay $1,717 per month just for medical insurance as premiums went up $800 per month.)


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your question. I understand your frustration regarding cost of living increases in relationship to pay increases. Suffice to say, the District does its very best to provide the highest percentage pay increases to its employees based upon the limited resources the District receives on an annual basis in the form of local tax collections and state aid.

Unfortunately, there is little anyone can do regarding increased costs due to inflation and taxation. Sadly, there is also little the District can do regarding the escalating costs of health care.

To explain in more detail, the District opted into TRS Heath Care plan in 2007. Once the District opts in, it cannot opt out. Since we are within the TRS Health Care System, no district in the plan throughout the state has any say so as to the plan benefits, deductibles and/or costs. TRS and its selected Vendor (here Aetna Healthcare) work together to provide the plans to school district employees statewide. Therefore, FWISD has no voice in the plan coverages or cost.

During the 85th Legislative session, there was some discussion of requiring districts of more than 1,000 employees to opt out of TRS Active Care. That Legislation died without any action. Therefore, for now, we must remain with TRS Active Care.

Please reach out to me if you have additional questions.



Dear Elsie,

I have two questions.

How many days of accrued sick/personal business days will FWISD reimburse a teacher/counselor for at retirement?

When I began working for the District, teachers received an amount for each year they worked for FWISD which was paid at retirement. I know that FWISD no longer pays a "bonus" for each year; however, will the amount that had accrued before the policy ended be paid to me at retirement?

Thank you,

Dr. Judith Yarbro

Dear Dr. Yarbro,

Thank you for your questions.

Board Policy DEG(Local) explains an employee's eligibility for terminal pay.

Per the policy, terminal pay shall not be provided to employees hired after August 31, 2003. In short, if an employee qualifies to receive terminal pay, the employee will receive the lesser of the leave balance as of August 31, 2012, or the date of retirement, with a maximum of 20 days pay for unused leave. If an employee was hired after August 31, 2003, the employee is not eligible to receive pay for any unused accrued sick leave.

If you are eligible for terminal pay (hired before August 31, 2003), then you will receive that benefit at retirement. For employees who were grandfathered into the benefit, the amount was frozen as of August 31, 2012. Please refer to Board Policy DEG(Local) to review eligibility and anticipated payment of this benefit if you qualify.

Thanks again,


Direct your questions to Inside@fwisd.org and put the words “Ask Elsie” I the subject line. Please close your letter with your preferred signature as you wish it to appear in the column. When there are multiple queries on the same subject, we will select the one that is most representative of the subject. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.

Board of Education Approves Makeup Work Hours for January 16 School Start Delay

The Fort Worth Board of Education has approved a recommendation that will not require non-exempt employees to make-up hours related to late arrivals on January 16.

The motion passed 4-1 at a board meeting Tuesday, February 13.

The District delayed school start times two hours, January 16 because of expected inclement weather.

According to a resolution approved February 13, by the Board, trustees believe "that the public interest will be served by paying all employees who were idled during the unexpected two-hour delayed start on January 16, 2018, due to bad weather." Pursuant to Board policy, all employees will be paid for a regular duty day "including those employees who were idle and not working during the two-hour delayed start."

In January, FWISD Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro issued a District memorandum, stating that employees who arrived to work prior to the delayed start time may receive up to two hours credit based on their schedule.

"This credit will prevent any dock in pay due to the two-hour delay," Ms. Schiro wrote the memo. "If an employee is granted credit for any amount of time, it should be for the time missed up to two hours prior to his/her scheduled work day on January 16, 2018. These hours should in no way place the employee into overtime status in KRONOS for the week of January 13-19, 2018."

Compensatory time is being allowed for up to two hours to the following non-exempt employees:

  • Arrived at normal scheduled time;
  • Arrived between normal scheduled time and before delayed start time;
  • Already made up the missed time

Supervisors are required to monitor all compensatory time earned and used because of the January 16 delay.


Fort Worth ISD thanks Mr. and Mrs. J.P. Piccinini for their generous donation of 12 new computers to the International Newcomer Academy Family Center. Mr. Piccinini is the chief executive officer and founder of JP and Associates Realtors.

Lack of access to technology can be a barrier to new families immigrating to the United States. This generous donation will empower our students and their families to search for employment, complete online school applications and communicate with loved ones back home.

Get Ready to Ignite, Engage, Apply at the Second Annual Literacy Conference

What is so difficult about teaching kids to read that we seem to struggle with it constantly? Is there any evidence that the class time we are sacrificing for Achieve 3000 work is actually improving our students' achievement levels?

These questions and more will be answered at the Second Annual FWISD Literacy Conference: Engineering the Love of Learning Through Literacy. The conference will take place Saturday, February 24 at Southwest High School, 4100 Alta Mesa Blvd., and is open to all Fort Worth ISD teachers and administrators. Check-in begins at 7:30 a.m., and the conference begins at 8:30 a.m.

Superintendent Kent P. Scribner will give opening remarks at the event, which aims to equip FWISD educators with literacy strategies they can take back to the classroom to use in fostering a love of learning among students through reading. Author Frank Serafini will deliver the conference keynote address.

The Literacy Conference complements Fort Worth ISD's 100 X 25 FWTX initiative efforts, which has set a goal of ensuring that 100 percent of third-graders are reading on grade level or above by 2025. Dr. Scribner is partnering with Mayor Betsy Price and BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose to lead the community-wide Read Fort Worth initiative. This collective impact strategy engages parents, grandparents, and caregivers as well as volunteers from the city's business sector, higher education, nonprofit organizations, and the faith-based community.

"The Literacy Conference is an opportunity for all content to come together and recognize how interwoven literacy is across all areas of curriculum," said Cherron Ukpaka, elementary literacy director.

Participants can earn trade-off credit for attending.

Click here to register for this year's Literacy Conference.

For more details, contact Sharolyn Chitwood, Professional Learning and Innovation specialist, at 817-814-3417.


FORT WORTH- The Vaqueros and the Fort Worth ISD are teaming up to provide “The Summer of Soccer” to all local students.

Fort Worth ISD students, faculty and administrators will receive FREE admission to all 2018 Vaqueros home games at historic Farrington Field, by showing their FWISD ID at the entry gate.

The minor league soccer team is slated for the 2018 home opener at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12, versus Tyler FC in what will be the Vaqueros’ fifth season in Fort Worth.

Dr. Lisa Langston, FWISD’s interim athletic director, said the partnership brings multiple benefits including professional development and informational programs between FWISD coaches and the Vaqueros coaching staff, soccer clinics for the District’s middle school student athletes and free admission to matches for FWISD employees and students.

“I look at it as a positive for the Vaqueros as well as Fort Worth ISD,” Dr. Langston said. “It’s an opportunity that’s far reaching. With the World Cup this summer, soccer is going to be at the forefront.”

In addition to the admission benefit, the Vaqueros players and staff will conduct FREE soccer clinics, participate and support the FWISD reading program and conduct coaching education classes for Fort Worth ISD middle school and high school coaches.

“On behalf of the entire Fort Worth Vaqueros organization, ‘Thank you’ to Dr. Scribner, Dr. Langston and the Fort Worth ISD leadership for their vision and joining the Vaqueros in this innovative partnership,” Vaqueros owner Michael Hitchcock said. “We're excited to work with a great community partner in FWISD. We're looking forward to seeing FWISD students, coaches, teachers and administrators in their schools and at Vaqueros home games at Farrington Field. The Vaqueros are Fort Worth's soccer team!”

The Vaqueros compete in the National Premier Soccer League’s Lone Star Conference where the team finished first during the regular season in 2017. In addition to the league matches, the Vaqueros are planning an international exhibition game and possibly a U.S. Open Cup match at Farrington Field.

“Our mission has always been to ‘Grow the Beautiful Game in Fort Worth,’ and we can’t imagine having a bigger impact on the youth of Fort Worth than to allow FWISD students to watch our games for free,” Vaqueros General Manager Tobias Xavier Lopez said. “We have always taken pride in trying new and bold ways to promote the club, and we think this partnership will benefit the community in an unprecedented fashion.”

For more information, visit www.fortworthvaqueros.com.

Hodges: 'If That Is Anyone's Ambition To Be Successful … Come to Fort Worth ISD'

Fort Worth ISD is a home away from home for LaTanya Hodges, a sixth-grade targeted reading teacher at Jacquet Middle School.

Ms. Hodges, who is in her first year with FWISD, was recruited to Fort Worth from North Carolina. She said having colleagues and an induction specialist have offered her the support needed to succeed.

In this video, Ms. Hodges talks about her experience as a new teacher in Fort Worth ISD.

"There is something so fulfilling about seeing your success through others," she said. "It gives you the confidence to keep coming and doing it every day … and if that is anyone's ambition to be successful through student success, I say come to Fort Worth ISD."

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Ms. Hodges received her bachelor's degree in speech communications, with a minor in sociology, from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She started a family in North Carolina. She attended Grand Canyon University, studying towards a master's degree in elementary education. She was recruited to FWISD and is currently participating in the Texas Teachers alternative teacher certification program.

Fort Worth ISD provides its new teachers with intensive and targeted support for thriving in their roles. The support has created an 87 percent retention rate among new teachers.

To learn more about career opportunities with FWISD, visit fwisd.org/careers.

FWISD Celebrates CTE Month

Fort Worth ISD is celebrating career and technology education student projects and programs with displays this month in the main lobby of the District Administration Building, 100 N. University Drive.

February is Career and Technology Education Month. The public awareness campaign, which is observed throughout the country in February, celebrates the value, achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs.

Nearly 21,000 students are enrolled in FWISD CTE programs this school year. During the 2016-2017 school year, more than 1,000 FWISD students earned industry certifications/ licensures in workforce skillsets.

For more information about the FWISD CTE Department, click here.

After Working 27 Years for the State, Swint Picks Up Career Driving FWISD Buses

Driving the bus for Fort Worth ISD is a second career for Jay Swint.

After working for the state 27 years, he retired. Mr. Swint said he was "too young to sit at home," and anticipates he will drive buses for at least another 10 years until he reaches "retirement age."

In this video, Mr. Swint talks about the benefits to driving a FWISD bus.

"To learn to drive the bus, you think 'I'll never do it,' but you learn to," he said. "Once you get used to it, it's no more different than driving a regular car.

"There's nothing not to like about this job."

The Fort Worth ISD Operations Department is looking to hire hardworking, dedicated individuals to join its team as monitors, custodians and bus drivers.

Learn more about FWISD job opportunities today at www.fwisd.org/careers.

For more details on the hiring process and the necessary documents needed for background checks, call 817-814-2717.

February is Career and Technical Education Month

Professional Learning opportunities for the month of February

FWISD Dance Showcase, Thursday, February 15, Arlington Heights High School

Learning model sessions, Professional Development Center, 3150 McCart Ave.

4 to 5 p.m.: Friday, February 16; Monday, March 5 and Friday, March 9

5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Monday, February 26; Monday, March 19 and Tuesday, March 27

Early voting for the March 6 Primary, Tuesday, February 20-Friday, March 2

Billy W. Sills Lecture Series, 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, February 24

The Cowtown, Saturday, February 24-Sunday, February 25

Primary Election, Tuesday, March 6

Vital Link Summer Program teaching supervisor application deadline, Friday, March 23

Chair for Teaching Excellence in the Performing Arts application deadline, Tuesday, March 27

Campus Teacher of the Year reception, Thursday, April 5 at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)

Share your story ideas, successes, calendar items, photos, questions and feedback with us at Inside@FWISD.org. Check the Inside FWISD blog, www.fwisd.org/insidefwisd, regularly updated throughout the week with additional content and features

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