Superintendent Melody Johnson sent a message to district employees Thursday afternoon telling them that considering job cuts will be unavoidable. She said it's too early to know how it will play out exactly, and officials hope some cuts could come from attrition. But as the Legislature considers significant cuts to public education due to a shortfall experts estimate to range from $12 billion to $27 billion, cuts could be deeper than originally expected.
Preliminary recommendations would slash funding for pre-kindergarten, the arts education, teacher incentive pay, college financial aid to students and many other areas. Those cuts could mean a loss of $75 million to $80 million to Fort Worth schools over the next two years if implemented.
"Over the next few weeks and months, we are going to be faced with hard decisions – the
hardest decisions I personally have ever faced in my career," she wrote to staff. But she said officials were "not rolling over and accepting as inevitable all of the dire predictions."
The district launched a funding-related page on its site to keep employees informed. It includes an area where they can ask chief financial officer Hank Johnson specific questions on the budget or to offer their own ideas on budget cuts. It also includes contact information for local legislators and news on how other districts are dealing with budget issues.
Administrators expect to detail some budget impacts and possibly recommendations to Fort Worth school trustees in February. Johnson and other area school leaders plan to meet with the Tarrant County legislative delegation next week to discuss funding concerns among others.