Fort Worth superintendent signs new five-year contract, earns performance bonus

Dr. Kent Scribner, superintendent of the Fort Worth, said “we have an obligation — a moral responsibility — to serve all campuses and to serve all students.”
Dr. Kent Scribner, superintendent of the Fort Worth, said “we have an obligation — a moral responsibility — to serve all campuses and to serve all students.” Star-Telegram archives

Superintendent Kent Scribner is under a new five-year contract that keeps him at the helm of Fort Worth schools through 2023 — a move board trustees said will help usher continued academic gains to the district.

“I’m very, very excited,” Scribner said. “The board provided great feedback and we’re encouraged by the student achievement results that we have achieved thus far and excited about the promise and opportunity moving forward.”

The school board approved the contract that runs through Dec. 31, 2023 and a $15,000 performance bonus on Tuesday during a special board meeting.

The new contract doesn’t change Scribner’s base salary of $330,000.

The contract was approved with an 8-0 vote. Trustee Ann Sutherland abstained from the vote, which came after trustees met for about two hours in closed session.

The new contract comes months after the state released its accountability ratings in August.

This year, Fort Worth schools earned a “C” district ranking and reduced the number of campuses listed as “improvement required” by the state from 14 to 11. That achievement was described by Scribner as a move in the “right direction.”

Scribner said that the Fort Worth school district was touted by the Texas Education Agency for making positive gains.

“Fort Worth ISD has seen an aggregate 8 percent academic growth and we were identified as one of the top two large urban school districts in year-to-year growth,” he said.

The bonus marks the second year straight that Scribner receives a pay boost after student performance on state tests improved. Last year, he received a $25,000 bonus.

“We are changing the district’s culture and our city’s future because we have a committed superintendent who is providing stability across the board,” said Tobi Jackson, president of the school board.

Jackson said the superintendent is improving schools across the district “from the most fragile campuses to the strongest campuses.” He is committed to helping all students learn and succeed, she said.

Scribner’s contract includes a bonus of between $15,000 to $25,000 per year at the board’s discretion. Trustees review goals tied to clear data measures to decide on the bonus. In upcoming weeks, new goals will be developed, Scribner said.

In 2017, Scribner’s evaluation included measurement of three district goals based on student performance on State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness tests, or STAAR. The results for 2017 in Grade 3 reading, ninth-grade math and high school tests such as the ACT and SAT exceeded expectations, according to data presented to trustees in executive session.

Scribner was hired in 2015 to oversee the district of more than 86,000 students. He replaced Walter Dansby, who resigned as superintendent in June 2014. In 2016, Scribner’s first full year at the helm of Fort Worth schools, the district was the center of a national dialogue on transgender student rights. His critics included Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who called for his resignation.

Scribner also worked to put the focus on childhood literacy through a program that aims to have 100 percent of third-grade students reading on grade level by 2025.

Scribner and school board trustees have worked to improve student equity in learning and to ensure all students in the district know they are welcome.

The district has been addressing racial inequities on several fronts, including curriculum and school culture. Last year, the district established a Cesar Chavez-Dolores Huerta holiday for students. That effort came months after the district established a racial equity committee and policy to target institutional racism. It also reminded immigrant students that all learners are welcome in Fort Worth schools through a resolution.

The district is currently working to add more Latino and Latina history to lessons.

“The district is on an upward trajectory,” Scribner said. “I really feel like we are turning the ship in the right direction and I’m very excited that the board is committed to another five years.”

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Diane Smith, a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 1997. Smith, who has covered municipal government, immigration and education, has won multiple awards for reporting, most recently as part of a Star-Telegram team recognized by the Headliners Foundation of Texas for coverage of child abuse and Fort Worth’s Las Vegas Trail area.