FWISD board must set goals, move forward

05/22/2014 5:19 PM

05/22/2014 5:20 PM

It is said that silence speaks a thousand words.

But the relative quiet in the evaluation process of Fort Worth school superintendent Walter Dansby isn’t saying much about what might be delaying the board of trustees’ protracted review.

The board began reviewing Dansby — who took the helm of the 83,000-student school district slightly more than two years ago — in February.

More than 13 weeks later, board President Christene Moss told Star-Telegram reporter Yamil Berard, “We still have to do things like set goals and finish up some pieces that we’re working on.”

One of those goals must be to improve student performance, which took a disappointing dive last year.

According to the state accountability system, the number of low-performing schools in the Fort Worth district increased from 23 to 38 in 2013.

Board members will want to make crystal clear to parents and taxpayers that they will hold district leadership accountable for improving student educational outcomes, and they should.

No doubt, this is already a top priority for Dansby, who has worked for the district as a teacher, coach, principal and administrator since 1974.

Implementing the vision enshrined in the $490 million bond package that overwhelmingly passed last year is another likely goal, and one that is already underway.

The district said last week that slots for pre-K classes — expanded under the bond proposal — are filling up, and the program is on target to almost double in size for the 2015-16 school year.

Other elements of the bond package, like providing laptops to high school students, building new classrooms and converting some campuses to better utilize facility space, are not far behind.

Dansby played an integral role in the bond’s passage, and there is little doubt that its effective implementation is also a particular mark for the superintendent.

Whatever their differences, we can assume that Dansby and the board share many of the same goals — all of which should focus on the long-term best interests of students.

But it will be crucial for the board to give Dansby the room to fulfill those objectives, once they are set.

In the short term, the board’s delay and reserve undermines Dansby’s ability to effectively lead the district.

The trustees’ primary goal should be to get the evalution completed so everyone can begin moving forward again.

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