FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Selling change.
Fort Worth school leaders are pushing an ambitious plan to pour $4.5 million dollars into a handful of campuses that have been rated low performing for years.
Mitchell Blvd. Elementary, John T. White Elementary, Como Elementary, Logan Elementary and Forest Oak Middle School will become “Leadership Academies” when classes resume in the fall.
“These students are not starting the educational race at the educational stating line, so we must invest in them in an equitable way,” said Supt. Kent Scriber, Fort Worth ISD.
Supt. Scriber presented the turnaround plan to board members Tuesday night. The plan includes funds to court the district’s best teachers and principals—and asked them to invest in the struggling campuses as well. And yes, there is a return: teachers at the new academies will receive an additional $10,000 per year in incentive pay. Administrators chosen will receive a $15,000 bump in salary. Staffers must make a three year commitment.
The district has already identified roughly 200 teachers and principals that will be invited to apply for the leadership academies. Staff currently at those campuses will have to reapply to keep their jobs. Those that will not remain with the new academies will be offered other positions within the district.
They talk about a lot of ideas: improving the schools, bringing in great teachers, better teachers that want to be here for our kids,” says Logan parent Miranda Hannie, “and want them to learn and want to push them to do better—but, they haven’t did it so far.”
But, Hannie should prepare to be surprised. Fort Worth school leaders say the promised change is happening.
“We have to change the culture and in doing so, we’re going to change the destiny of these schools,” says district spokesperson Clint Bond.
Debbie Flynn says her daughter’s teacher is “the best”, but, she’s eager for other proposed changes, including after school enrichment activities that will extend the school day until 6 p.m.
“I think that’s too much,” says parent Veronica Rodriguez. She has children in PreK and Kindergarten and thinks that the longer day should be reserved for older students. The leadership academies will provide students with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The initiative is being funded with existing funds in the district budget. The Richard Rainwater Charitable Foundation donated $1 million to provide for uniforms and after school enrichment activities.
“That really is great,” says Hannie. “I like what I hear, and it’s great for the kids.”