The Fort Worth ISD trustees’ race — still two months away — has already heated up with the announcements this week that Ann Sutherland, who lives in Southwest Fort Worth, will run for the District 6 seat held by six-year board member Chris Hatch and, across town in District 2, Tobi Jackson of Eastern Hills is running to retire 20-year trustee Jean McClung. Sutherland and Jackson have the backgrounds to bring some serious intellectual debate to races that are often more boring than substantive. Both are well-known city and political activists with impressive educational bios. Both say they are throwing their hats in the ring to bring new and innovative ideas to everything from putting more kids, no matter their financial circumstances, on a path to college to restoring discipline in the classroom to providing strict financial accountability “for every taxpayer dollar spent,.” as Jackson said.
The latter may be the toughest to tackle, given the district’s current and past financial brouhahas. It is still reeling from its $1.5 million in overpayments it made last year to at least 2,000 employees and this week the board declared a “financial state of emergency” for the second year in a row because of a budget hole so deep the district may have to start laying off employees.
Whoever the winners are two months from now they will be facing not just a formidable financial crisis, they will be facing a demoralized staff of educators and support personnel many of whom are likely already dusting off their resumes.