With little fanfare, school board members voted 9-0 Tuesday evening to hire a veteran, bilingual school superintendent from Arizona to take over as top school administrator in Fort Worth.
Trustee Christene Moss made the motion to hire Kent Paredes Scribner, 49, and to approve his contract. Trustee Tobi Jackson seconded the motion. Moments later, Scribner signed a three-year contract.
The board agreed to pay Scribner a base salary of $330,000 a year, starting Oct. 15 and continuing until Oct. 14, 2018. His car allowance is $1,000 per month.
He is also eligible for performance bonuses. On or before Dec. 31, 2016, and again after annual performance evaluations in the second and third years of the contract, Scribner is eligible for a $10,000 performance incentive. Trustees will authorize the incentive based on whether they believe he met goals established by Scribner and trustees.
“We’re glad that it’s official, and you’ve committed to coming to Fort Worth,” board president Cinto Ramos said. “We as a board have worked overtime to ensure that we make a good selection and a right choice.
“We’ve all got faith in you.’’
Scribner thanked the board. “It feels very, very good and I’m excited to have completed this process and really wanted to get started and meet as many of you as possible,” he said.
He said he wants the Fort Worth district to become “the model” for urban districts in the U.S.
In his first year, he said, his goal will be to focus on improving student outcomes.
“I plan to continue meeting with school folks, meeting with community leaders and faith-based organizations as well as getting guidance from the board of trustees and stakeholders to develop a strong and long-term plan for success,” he said.
In many cases, districts embrace too many programs at once, he said.
“Organizations trying to be too much are really not very successful,’’ he said. “It’s more about how do we align our resources, efforts and energy over core issues and core challenges.”
With “honesty, integrity and having a moral compass” are how he expects to operate with the school board.
“You will not find me playing favorites’’ with trustees, he said.
Speaking to the board before the vote, district employee Janie Guinn described Scribner as a “game-changer” who could improve the district’s low-performing schools. According to recent state accountability exams, Fort Worth has 21 low-performing schools.
“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,’’ Guinn said.
The previous superintendent, 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.
He is required to have an annual physical examination by a physician acceptable to board and superintendent who will submit confidential reports to the board regarding his physical fitness to perform the job.
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 when the finalist, Santa Fe, N.M., Superintendent Joel Boyd withdrew at the last minute after some trustees questioned his track record on student achievement in New Mexico.
Scribner has been very visible in Fort Worth since he was named the sole finalist on Aug. 11. He attended the annual convocation to kick off the school year and was at a north Fort Worth school before dawn to greet students on the first day of school.
He has a son who is a freshman at Arizona State, and a daughter who is a sophomore in high school.
Before joining Phoenix Union, Scribner was superintendent of the Isaac Elementary School District in Phoenix from 2003 to 2008. He oversaw 14 school sites that served more than 8,000 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
From 1999 to 2003, he was executive director of the human resources division of the 11,000-student Tempe school district. He was also the multicultural curriculum director of the Roosevelt school district in Phoenix.
In October 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Scribner to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Scribner began his career as a high school Spanish teacher in Philadelphia.
The Los Angeles-born educator earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies from Carleton College in Minnesota. He received his master’s in counseling psychology from Temple University in Philadelphia. And he has a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Arizona State University.