FWISD strives to avoid teacher layoffs

University education majors may still struggle to find jobs despite the Fort Worth Independent School District’s efforts to reduce teacher layoffs, Mike Sacken, professor of education, said.

Teachers are being offered bonuses amounting to 10 percent of their yearly salaries if they retire or leave the Fort Worth school district by the end of the semester, said Terri Mossige, principal of R.L. Paschal High School. By encouraging resignations and early retirements, the school district will attempt to avoid layoffs, she said.

FWISD was on a hiring freeze until its budget and employee numbers were finalized, she said.

Four of Paschal’s teachers have decided to take the bonus, she said.

“It’s a hard year for teachers but not an impossible year, said Jo Beth Jimerson, assistant professor of education.

Jan Lacina, associate dean of graduate studies, said 105 education students were pursuing graduate degrees, and 30 students were in the Four-One program, said. The Four-One program is offered to the top education students to combine a bachelor’s degree with a master’s degree in five years, she said.

University education majors have a competitive edge over other teachers because they had the option to pursue a specialization in ESL or special education, Lacina said.

The number of education majors has increased very slightly because of the larger numbers of incoming students, Sacken said. Teaching attracted a certain type of people who want to make a difference in someone else’s life, he said. They need something to know life matters, he said.

In past years, the College of Education has always had a 100 percent job placement, said Dale Young, director of student teaching and career services.

However, with the current state of the economy, that percentage had decreased to 76 percent, he said. Despite the decrease, Young said graduating students should still be optimistic because there were jobs outside of the Fort Worth school district.

The university will host two interview days in which 25 Texas school districts will interview graduating students for potential job openings, Young said. FWISD will not be represented at the interview days, he said.     

Students needed to be willing to look for jobs in other states and school districts besides FWISD, Jimerson said.

Students should network and get to know the faculty and administration at the schools where they student teach to create a network for potential future jobs, Mossige said. Many schools, including Paschal, take recommendations and references very seriously, she said.

A healthy level of concern is beneficial for students to motivate them to pursue teaching jobs, Jimerson said. Students should start applying now and not wait until graduation, she said.