Static: Wednesday, May 25, 2005
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
At-Risk Schools

The Fort Worth school district’s budget gurus think they’ve found a way to cut about $20 mil from a budget drowning in red ink: Get rid of those at the lower end of the food chain. The 2005-2006 budget proposed by interim Superintendent Joe Ross and his top administrators would — among other things — eliminate 31 secretaries, four elementary school counselors, 10 middle school library clerks, 15 nurses, three alternative school intervention specialists, 15 maintenance workers, 50 campus monitors, and cut out most custodian and maintenance overtime. In the central office, 58 lower-echelon folk will become toast, but only three executive directors — the highest-paid foxes in that henhouse — will take a hike. The district has promised the United Educators Association that these jobs will be taken out by attrition, not by pink slips. Other reductions would come by cutting certain services, changing school opening times, and eliminating expensive programs such as I CAN Learn.
Not all of those making the ultimate sacrifice are employees. One of the biggest proposed cuts (about $1.57 million) is the closing of Accelerated High School on the Near South Side. It serves more than 200 at-risk students — kids who would probably drop out if AHS didn’t exist, said trustee Juan Rangel, in whose district the school is located. “I wasn’t even consulted on that one,” a livid Rangel said. Adding to his frustration over closing a school that he said is doing a bang-up job of helping kids graduate, is the fact that this is just one more real estate deal that’s poured millions into black holes in his district — $3.6 million for the Motheral Printing plant, a site so polluted that the district can never use it for a school, and a $500,000 loss on Temple Beth El, also bought for a school but never utilized. Now it’s Accelerated, which was remodeled four years ago at a cost of just under $1 million and was one of the schools scammed out of $104,256 for unnecessary concrete work in a major bidding fraud scheme.
The schools in his district, Rangel said, are as much at risk as the kids at AHS.

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