May 21, 2014

Dansby receives mixed reviews in annual evaluation

Fort Worth school Superintendent Walter Dansby is credited with passing a bond election, but some trustees are not satisfied with student achievement.

Walter Dansby has received mixed reviews in his evaluation this year as superintendent of the 83,000-student Fort Worth school district, school board members said Tuesday.

“Some board members are supporting him,” board President Christene Moss said. “I can’t speak for them. But there are some issues that we are trying to work those out.” Moss wouldn’t elaborate.

She said the board completed part of the evaluation March 25. The process is expected to continue as the board sets goals for the superintendent in coming weeks.

“We completed [the evaluation],” she said. “But we still have to do things like set goals and finish up some pieces that we’re working on. To me, it’s really not newsworthy.”

By law, the board is required to take action in public on any changes to the terms of Dansby’s contract. Trustees extended the contract to 2016 last year but are not expected to extend it this year, Moss said. No public vote to that effect has taken place.

Dansby, 63, did not respond to requests for comment about his evaluation. He has previously listed passage of a $490 million bond package as one of his major achievements. Many civic and church leaders have also lauded his leadership.

The superintendent received a $10,000 bonus last year that was triggered by a satisfactory evaluation, former board President Judy Needham has said.

Several board members, including Needham, Norman Robbins and Ann Sutherland, have said they are not satisfied with the district’s academic performance in the state accountability system. Among districts of similar size, Fort Worth has the highest percentage of low-performing schools.

The number of low-performing schools climbed to 38 from 23 last year, according to the Texas Education Agency’s list of Public Education Grant Schools for 2014-15.

Moss said the board is trying to tackle those challenges.

“We’re still going ahead with student achievement,” Moss said. “That’s our No. 1 focus, but sometimes you just have to stop and work with issues that you need to deal with.”

Dansby began his third year as superintendent early this year. He earns a base pay of $338,817.60, which excludes fringe and health benefits, making him one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state and among the highest-paid public officials in Tarrant County.

His evaluation began in February. The board measured his performance in seven areas — student achievement, operational effectiveness and efficiency, family and community, board and superintendent relations, community relations, workforce and customer service — records show.

Under the contract terms, he automatically receives a $10,000 bonus every year if he gets a satisfactory evaluation. He is evaluated annually by law and typically receives raises comparable to those of other district employees.

Trustees are expected to meet Tuesday at a regular board meeting. The agenda is expected to be available Thursday.

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