News for North Texas

Jobs in jeopardy as declining enrollment, finances spur shake-up in Fort Worth ISD

Fort Worth ISD Chief Talent Officer Raúl Peña presents options to over 100 administration employees on March 10. Program changes will go into effect in efforts to save money and right size the district because of enrollment declines.
Fort Worth Report

More than 100 Fort Worth ISD employees learned just before spring break that they may not return next school year.

In an effort to save costs and reorganize the district, Superintendent Angélica Ramsey told central administration employees on March 10 that their jobs could be cut because of declining enrollment and tighter finances.

Some positions will be eliminated and others will be merged or have new job expectations, Ramsey said in a written statement. Employees certified to teach will have the chance to return as teachers and fill some of the hundreds of classroom vacancies, she said. As of March 13, the district’s jobs board has 116 openings for elementary and secondary teachers.

On March 8, Ramsey sent an email to staff calling the meeting. A Fort Worth ISD employee shared the email with the Fort Worth Report. In her email, Ramsey wrote that, as part of her meetings with employees and an organizational audit, she’s been reviewing district operations and the budget.

In the email, Ramsey said, “since your position may be impacted through program changes and organizational changes, I am holding a meeting this Friday at 3:30 p.m..”

She went on to say in the email that the meeting is not to provide notices of specific changes, but to make employees aware of changes coming and give them time to make individual decisions.

Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Angélica Ramsey sent this email to some central administration staff on March 8.
Fort Worth Report

The affected employees have three options:

  • resign at the end of the school year;
  • resign and apply for a new position;
  • resign and retire with their Teacher Retirement System funds.

Two employees told the Report decisions must be submitted to the district by March 27 or those employees will be presented to the school board for termination and nonrenewal. Trustees are scheduled to meet March 28.

Ramsey said in a written statement that the change is part of ongoing efforts to address the decrease in student enrollment and a need to reallocate resources to more positively impact student learning.

Because employees are able to re-apply or seek new positions, Ramsey told the Report exactly how much money this could save is not yet available.

At a recent speech to the Women’s Policy Forum, Ramsey mentioned conclusions that came out of her stakeholder meetings during her first six months on the job, including some related to staff.

“Just like any other organization, we found that we have dysfunction,” she said at the luncheon. “We have to be dysfunctional because we’re made up of people. Our job is to figure out those areas and to do everything we can to fix the dysfunction.”

Enrollment is down. So are state funds.

One of those dysfunctions to work out is declining enrollment. Ramsey addressed these issues at the Women’s Policy Forum.

Currently, Fort Worth ISD has 72,811 students, according to an open records request filed by the Report. Ramsey expects the enrollment declinewill continue until the district hits a plateau of about 55,000 students.

Texas Education Agency, Fort Worth ISD enrollment projections obtained through a records request.
Jacob Sanchez

Lower birth rates, fewer immigrants, demographic shifts, an aging population and increased competition from charter schools have fueled enrollment declines in Fort Worth ISD and across the nation, according to the Edunomics Lab, a research center focused on school finance at Georgetown University.

Ramsey also pointed to rising housing costs and neighborhood crime as more local reasons for the drop.

“We know that our solutions can’t be just for tomorrow. We need to right size the school district so that we don’t have to do it every single year,” Ramsey said.

Jacob Sanchez | Fort Worth Report

Staffing levels have not necessarily dropped alongside enrollment, according to data with the Texas Education Agency. Trustee Camille Rodriguez flagged that concern during a school board meeting in May.

“We shouldn’t have the same number of teachers or support staff if we have less students,” Rodriguez said at the time.

When funds decline, deficit follows

The enrollment decline is putting pressure on Fort Worth ISD’s finances.

In Texas, enrollment is directly tied to state funding, meaning the district is getting less money from the state each year.

The district has a more than $80 million deficit, which was created when trustees and administrators called for more spending than available money in the budget.

Fort Worth ISD also is dealing with a smaller pool of state funds. Lower enrollment pushed district officials to plan for a loss of $23.8 million in state funding. Since 2019, state funding to Fort Worth ISD has dropped by a third.

However, under Texas’ Robin Hood law, Fort Worth ISD is property rich, and it is now sending $2 million in excess property tax revenue from local taxpayers to the state. Administrators attributed higher property values and lower enrollment as why the district is falling under the law.

Superintendent Ramsey acknowledged that the district is not where it needs to be. Employment changes are an effort to fix that, but she said it will take time and starts with a strategic plan, a document administrators are assembling.

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily Toreador at Texas Tech University. To contact her, email
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University. Contact him at or via Twitter.