Editorial: Fort Worth school board should move faster on hiring superintendent

09/03/2014 5:01 PM

09/03/2014 5:02 PM

Fort Worth school board members have agreed to hire Ray and Associates, an education leadership search firm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to find the district’s next superintendent.

This is a good time to urge trustees to get the lead out of their pants and get this hire done.

They have a highly competent person minding the store. Interim Superintendent Pat Linares, a former deputy superintendent in Fort Worth, came out of retirement to take on the temporary role after Superintendent Walter Dansby resigned June 2.

But Linares says she is not a candidate for the permanent job. Putting the right person in that post should be treated as an urgent necessity.

Consider the distraction and delay that the board has already inserted into the district’s top-echelon leadership efforts.

Trustees began Dansby’s annual performance evaluation Feb. 18, saying it would be done by early March.

But the evaluation stretched into more than three months of what obviously became acrimonious discussions. Dansby has said that by June 2 the board demanded his departure.

School board members are elected officials, and anytime a majority wants a new superintendent, that’s what they should get.

But the superintendent is the district’s driving force, and the Fort Worth district will not be driven properly until the new top leader is aboard.

Most importantly, time is precious in aggressively addressing low student achievement in some Fort Worth schools.

The board’s anticipated timeline for hiring a superintendent is run-of-the-mill, and it needs to be shorter.

Gary L. Ray, the search firm’s president, told Star-Telegram reporter Yamil Berard that his company will meet with the board to discuss a projected salary (Dansby’s base pay was $338,817.60 a year), plan community forums and develop a profile of the ideal candidate.

Linares said the board will interview top candidates in October and November and visit their districts. A finalist could be named in December and hired in January.

That’s at least a month too slow. The goal should be to have the right person hired and on the job by Jan. 5, when classes resume after the winter break.

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