FORT WORTH--Three weeks before classes start, the Fort Worth school district is hustling to hire teachers and classroom assistants to replace employees who left the district over the summer.
The school district stressed that the teaching jobs -- elementary, bilingual and special education teachers -- are not new positions, but openings that were created after current employees retired or resigned. The positions already are accounted for in the fiscal 2012-2013 budget, said Clint Bond, a school district spokesman.
"We are not adding any additional teachers. All were doing is backfilling those spots that came open during the summer," Bond said. "We're in good condition because sometimes there have been times where we're [hiring] right up until the last week but we're not there now."
The district is not releasing the number of employees who will be hired or a breakdown on how many teachers are needed in each area, Bond said.
The move comes weeks after the school board agreed to lay off 84 staffers, including teacher aides and library clerks. About half of those have already been hired back. Others are being notified they can reapply to get their jobs back, Bond said.
No certified teachers were laid off this year but some teachers were placed in a surplus pool. Administrators have been placing those teachers in other jobs as they come available and now are hiring from outside the district, Bond said.
In the spring, the district had offered a bonus of up to $10,000 to the first 600 teachers and 100 degreed professionals who notified officials early that they would not return for 2012-2013. On top of that, other educators decided to leave the district, creating the unfilled positions.
Steven Poole, executive director of the Fort Worth based United Educators Association, said the last minute hiring is "not unusual" and noted that other North Texas districts are hiring to make sure their employees meet staffing needs.
Schools trustee Ann Sutherland said she welcomed the move. She had criticized the layoffs of aides, rather than making cuts among central office staff.
"They've placed all of the teachers that were surplus. What pleased me the most is it appears that we are going to hire most of the aides that we laid off. I was very concerned about them. I thought it was imprudent to lay off people who make $25,000 a year," Sutherland said on Wednesday.
School board president T.A. Sims voiced similar sentiments.
"Basically I think that if we have a need for teachers it is a good thing that we can hire them back," Sims said. "I always think it's a good thing when there is an opportunity to improve the classroom performance of our students."
The first day of school is Aug 27. For the second year in a row, teachers won't have a district wide convocation gathering. Instead, employees will watch a videotaped message on August 20 as part of a Virtual Convocation, giving them more time to prepare their classroom for the new school year.
This article contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.
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