Fort Worth board tables Dansby contract in wee hours

03/25/2014 10:47 PM

03/25/2014 10:49 PM

The Fort Worth school board early this morning voted to table a discussion of Superintendent Walter Dansby’s contract, after more than five hours of discussion behind closed doors.

According to a tweet posted by the district at about 1 a.m., the board plans to resume the discussion at 6 p.m. March 31.

Before trustees went into closed session to discuss whether to extend Dansby’s contract, several campus administrators and local civic leaders rose to praise him at the board’s regular meeting.

Paul Galvan, the interim principal of Polytechnic High School, spoke of “the passion [Dansby] has for students and employees of this district.”

“I can truthfully say that Poly High School students know Mr. Dansby,’’ Galvan said.

Then he addressed the board, saying, “I commend you for the time you have given him to be superintendent of FWISD.”

As Dansby begins his third year leading the district, he can list voter approval of a $490 million bond package and new academic programs among key accomplishments.

He has also been credited with helping mend a school board that was best known for infighting during the tenure of his predecessor, Melody Johnson.

Dansby’s contract expires Aug. 31, 2016.

The superintendent’s annual performance evaluation began Feb. 18. Under his contract, he is eligible for a $10,000 annual bonus. With a base pay of $338,817.60, which excludes fringe and health benefits, he is one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state and among the highest-paid public officials in Tarrant County.

Over the next year, trustees are looking to the superintendent to boost student performance, several board members have said.

Among large districts of similar size, Fort Worth has the highest percentage of low-performing schools in the state. The number of low-performing schools in the Fort Worth district climbed to 38 from 23 last year, according to the Texas Education Agency’s list of Public Education Grant Schools for 2014-15.

Dansby joined the school district as a teacher and coach at Rosemont Middle School in 1974. He was principal of O.D. Wyatt High School until he was promoted to area dean of instruction, and he continued to rise through administrative roles overseeing instruction, athletics, student affairs and maintenance.

Numerous Dansby supporters packed Tuesday night’s meeting. In his two years as superintendent, supporters said, he has pushed for district improvement, transparency and access.

For example, a man who identified himself as an official with the Baptist Ministers Union praised Dansby for establishing fine arts, science and math programs. He said the district is on its way to becoming the best in the nation.

“Congratulations to Mr. Dansby for the fine job he is doing for our district,’’ the man said.

E. Omar Ramos, principal of Trimble Tech High School, talked about a memorable March 4 meeting between the superintendent and high school principals.

“That whole afternoon was a motivational type of ‘Let’s go out there and let’s get our students all riled up and make sure they are doing absolutely their best,’ ” Ramos said.

“The expectation is that we are doing everything we can to be passionate about our kids.’’

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