The 86,000-student Fort Worth school district is about to get a new leader.
The school board is expected to approve the hiring of superintendent finalist Kent Paredes Scribner, 49, at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Contract negotiations between Scribner and trustees went on for several days and have “come down to the wire,” board President Jacinto Ramos said.
Details of the contract will be released once the board approves it, Ramos said.
The previous leader, Walter Dansby, was one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state, with a base salary of $338,817.60.
According to the job posting, the superintendent’s salary was set at about $300,000. Scribner earns a base salary of $280,000 as superintendent of the 27,000-student Phoenix Union High School District, according to his job application.
“I’m extremely proud and pleased of the hard work by our board,” Ramos said Thursday afternoon after negotiations were completed. “I am anxious to get to work on our shared vision, and our continued alignment will ensure our children remain the priority.”
Trustees chose Scribner from a pool of about 60 applicants after a search that began shortly after the May 9 board elections. Early this year, the first attempt to hire a superintendent flopped. The former finalist, Santa Fe Superintendent Joel Boyd, withdrew at the last minute after some trustees questioned his track record on student achievement in New Mexico.
Scribner, who has been Phoenix Union’s superintendent for about eight years, is expected to draw support from all nine trustees, Ramos said.
Scribner has been very visible in Fort Worth — including greeting students on the first day of school — since trustees announced him as the lone finalist on Aug. 11.
I’m not just passing through as a steppingstone to something else. … I believe the district could really become a model for what urban education should be.
Kent Paredes Scribner
“I want to be in Fort Worth,” Scribner said in a recent interview with the Star-Telegram. “I’m not just passing through as a steppingstone to something else. I want to be a part of the community and have a long and successful run and build something special. I believe the district could really become a model for what urban education should be.”
After announcing the finalist, trustees were required by Texas law to wait 21 days before making the hiring official.
Kent Paredes Scribner’s first day will be Oct. 15.
Interim Superintendent Pat Linares has led the district for more than a year. She replaced Dansby, who resigned suddenly on June 2, 2014.
If you go
The Fort Worth school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at 2903 Shotts St.
Half a century of superintendents
Past superintendents in the Fort Worth school district.
Walter Dansby: 2012-14
The district’s first African-American superintendent, Dansby abruptly resigned June 2, 2014, after a contentious evaluation process. He grew up in the Stop Six neighborhood and began his career in 1974 as a Rosemont Middle School teacher and coach. He later coached at Paschal and Southwest high schools.
He was an assistant principal at Paschal and a principal at O.D. Wyatt High before moving into district administration in the mid-1990s.
Melody Johnson: 2005-11
The district’s first female superintendent was hired from Providence, R.I., where she had been superintendent since 2002. She had also worked as a school administrator in San Antonio and had 36 years’ experience as an educator.
She was credited for rebuilding public trust, making academic gains and creating innovative programs. She resigned in May 2011 after enduring months of intense criticism from some trustees.
Thomas Tocco: 1994-2004
Tocco was hired in April 1994, coming to Fort Worth from St. Charles Parish in suburban New Orleans. He drew criticism early on for promoting Jean Reyes to principal without telling the school board that the two were dating. Reyes later resigned, but Tocco refused to apologize or resign.
By 1998, five Fort Worth schools earned an exemplary rating, an all-time high. That number would grow to 14 in 2002.
The end of Tocco’s tenure was marked by a construction billing scandal that cost the school district $16 million. The board voted to reassign Tocco until his contract ran out in December.
Joe Ross was named interim superintendent during the summer.
Don Roberts: 1987-94
Roberts began his education career in 1959 as a teacher, coach and administrator in Westin, Ore. He came to Fort Worth in 1987 after the resignation of I. Carl Candoli. Roberts’ Project C-Cubed: Community, Corporations and Classrooms was applauded nationally and is considered one of his lasting achievements.
In 1993, Roberts clashed with teachers unions on the need for disciplinary action against students. On Sept. 28, 1993, he announced his resignation.
I. Carl Candodi: 1980-86
After a long search, Candoli, a University of Kansas professor, was named to replace retiring Superintendent Gerald Ward, making him the first “outsider” to lead the district. Candoli’s forceful management style was seen as the antidote to a district “riddled with felonious activity,” according to then-school board President Richard O’Neal. Later, though, that same style led to “run-ins” with trustees, district employees and the news media.
Candoli resigned in 1986 after a school board ultimatum that he alter his “one-man-show” approach.
Gerald Ward: 1975-80
Ward began his career in education in 1950 as a teacher in the Fort Worth district, rising through the ranks to deputy superintendent in 1971. During Ward’s tenure, 16 people were indicted on charges of theft, bribery and perjury. Those charged included five district employees; the rest were vendors who did business with the district. The investigation into wrongdoing led to changes in the purchasing system.
Ward’s emphasis was on parent and community involvement. He retired in 1980 and died in 1993.
Julius G. “Judy” Truelson III: 1967-75
Truelson joined the Fort Worth school system in 1936 as a teacher and coach at Riverside Junior-Senior High School and taught and coached at several high schools in the district. In 1967, he took a one-year appointment as superintendent while the board searched for a new leader. Six months later, his appointment was made permanent.
Two integration plans were put into effect during his tenure, as well as the institution of a middle school program. Truelson was superintendent when the district began court-ordered busing in the early 1970s. He resigned in 1974, partly because of differences with trustees. He died in 2001.
Elden B. Busby: 1962-67
Busby began teaching in Fort Worth public schools in 1931. He then served as principal in several Fort Worth high schools until 1946, when he joined the administration. In 1962, he was named the 11th superintendent of the Fort Worth district and assumed his duties at the start of the school year in 1963.
Busby began his term during a period of transition. In 1963, the school system integrated first-grade classes, and full racial integration was extended to all classes by September 1967.
Source: Star-Telegram archives