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Fort Worth ISD dips into reserves to cover nearly $17.7M in raises for teachers, staff

T.A. Sims Elementary Principal Andrea Harper greets a student and his mom at the school drop-off on the first day of classes, Aug. 14, 2023.
Cristian ArguetaSoto
Fort Worth Report
T.A. Sims Elementary Principal Andrea Harper greets a student and his mom at the school drop-off on the first day of classes, Aug. 14, 2023.

Teachers and all other employees in Fort Worth ISD will see a 2% raise in the 2024-25 school year.

The school board recently approved a nearly $17.7 million compensation plan, which includes an additional $44 monthly contribution for district-covered health care. However, the pay bump meant the district had to dip into its reserves to maintain a balanced budget.

The new starting salary for a teacher is $63,000, and the average raise for teachers is $1,250, according to a district spokesperson.

Seven trustees voted for the plan; trustee Kevin Lynch was the lone dissenter and board Secretary Anael Luebanos abstained.

Lynch’s vote against the raises was more about Fort Worth ISD’s budget process, he said. Typically, administration presents the compensation plan toward the end of the budget process when the cost of raises has not been accounted for.

“I support taking care of teachers, classrooms and staff, but I’m going to ask that in the future we have these discussions prior to figuring out our budgets,” Lynch said.

Budget discussions have been happening for months as administrators focused on balancing the budget, Superintendent Angélica Ramsey said. She blamed the Texas Legislature for not increasing public education funding, which she said would have covered raises.

“We would be able to bring a balanced budget only if that meant zero on the compensation side, knowing that a recommendation from staff would be to increase,” Ramsey said. “Because the Legislature did not act, we would be asking the board to dip into the reserves for compensation for our employees.”

Fort Worth ISD expects to have $358.9 million in its general fund reserves for the start of the 2024-25 school year. The reserves would fund the district for more than 151 operating days, according to data presented to the school board.

The new compensation package eats up nearly eight operating days from the reserves, leaving just over 143 days in the bank.

The Government Finance Officers Association recommends school districts maintain 60 to 90 days of reserves, while the state’s school finance accountability system says at least 75.

“You can see that we are in good shape,” Chief Financial Officer Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria told trustees during a May 28 budget discussion before their vote.

Trustee Michael Ryan, a former educator, wished the school board could provide even more money to all staff.

The problem? Revenue, he said.

Without additional dollars, the school district will have to dip into its reserves again and again unless the Legislature tabs additional dollars to public education, Ryan said.

Or, he added, the district increases property taxes.

As people spoke tonight about wanting to keep schools open, all that adds into what we have to do,” Ryan said. “I expect them to vote for tax increases down the road because they want to keep their schools open, so we can pay our teachers a good rate.”

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or @_jacob_sanchez. 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.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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.