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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Fort Worth ISD Board President, superintendent send letters to governor raising concerns about school opening plans

Fort Worth ISD Board of Education President Jacinto Ramos, Jr., and Superintendent Kent P. Scribner are among the signatories of separate letters sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday raising concerns about the state’s readiness to open schools as planned in the fall. .

Dr. Scribner, as the chair of the Texas Urban Council of Superintendents and a member of the Texas School Alliance, and Ramos, president of one of the ten largest school districts in the state, both urged the governor to set forth a plan for the coming school year that would –

·        Waive attendance accounting requirements

·        Set a floor on average daily attendance so funding at least remains the same as 2019-2020

·        And allows school districts to design curriculum that meets the needs of individual communities.

“Certainly, we all want students to be in school,” Scribner wrote, “but local school districts must have the flexibility to make sure that any approach taken is safe to students, staff and families without the fear of losing funding.”

Ramos joined with school board presidents from Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, just to name a few to beseech the governor to resolve their concerns.

“Conditions have changed dramatically in the last four weeks, and they continue to worsen daily,” reads the board president’s letter. “It is clear you recognize the ever-changing situation as we’ve seen the daily developments in both numbers of cases, pulling back from opening certain businesses, mandating masks in the majority of counties, etc. School districts and their communities are facing the same worsening conditions, and these recent circumstances are far more acute than when districts across the state were closed initially this past spring.”

 In Texas, a virus hot spot, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and education leaders say it’s safe to reopen schools in August. Districts must offer remote learning for students who opt to stay home, but the state didn’t issue safety guidelines, calling masks a local decision.

The Texas American Federation of Teachers and other unions have demanded clear guidelines.

“Texas AFT says a big ‘hell no’ to what looks like a return to normal in August,” president Zeph Capo said. “We won’t sacrifice our members and students for politics.”

Both letters ask Abbott to respond by July 17.

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