Parent Sounds Off on School District Spending

Fort Worth ISD
Fort Worth ISD/Facebook Fort Worth ISD

A local parent sounded off about Fort Worth ISD’s spending habits as the school system continues to grapple with its budgetary woes amid declining enrollment and poor student achievement outcomes.

“I think it is shameful that Fort Worth ISD refuses to be fiscally responsible and take an honest approach on how to close the budget deficit. Instead of attracting more families and cutting wasteful spending, they double down on woke consultant fees, frivolous lawsuits, and bad policy,” district parent Jennifer Crossland recently told The Dallas Express.

Fort Worth ISD has been assessing whether it will have a balanced 2024-2025 school year budget.

Superintendent Angelica Ramsey emailed staff in February of this year about upcoming budget and staffing cuts. Payroll accounted for 82% of the district’s budget for the 2023-2024 school year, which amounted to $690.2 million out of the $846.8 million annual budget.

Declining enrollment, expiring COVID relief funds in September, and a projected budget deficit for the 2024-2025 school year were cited as reasons for the cuts. The 2023-2024 school year budget had a $45 million deficit, reported KERA News.

On April 23, the Fort Worth ISD school board heard a staff presentation regarding the next school year’s budget, which focused primarily on expected “revenue.”

“We are still working through the expenditure side of the proposed budget,” said Cesar Padilla, communications coordinator for Fort Worth ISD, per Fort Worth Report.

A presentation on expenditures will be discussed at a May 14 school board budget workshop.

The district’s chief finance officer, Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria, stated that it could take two years for Fort Worth ISD to get to a balanced budget, per FWR.

Arrieta-Candelaria expects the district will send back an estimated $7.4 million to the state under the recapture law. Last school year, the ISD sent $2.3 million back to the state.

DX reached out to Arrieta-Candelaria and Ramsey but did not hear back by publication.

As previously reported by DX, Dallas ISD is also facing a budget deficit. The district’s budget for next year is projected to see a $186 million shortfall.

Both school systems, the two biggest in North Texas, have logged poor student achievement scores in recent years. Fort Worth ISD saw only 32% of its students score at grade level on the STAAR exam during the 2021-2022 school year, according to the latest Texas Education Agency accountability report.

For its part, Dallas ISD saw only 41% of students score at grade level. The state average was 48% that school year.

Fort Worth ISD beat Dallas ISD when it came to on-time graduation, logging a rate of 85.7%, while almost 20% of Dallas ISD’s graduating Class of 2022 did not graduate on time. Statewide, the average on-time graduation rate was 90%.

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