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Fort Worth School Board Names Phoenix School Leader As Its Next Superintendent

Bill Zeeble
Kent Paredes Scribner, lone finalist to be Fort Worth's next school superintendent, surrounded by trustees. They were unanimous in choosing him.

The Fort Worth school board has unanimously named Kent Scribner to be its next superintendent. The school leader from Phoenix, Arizona was named the lone finalist at Tuesday’s board meeting where he also made an appearance.

Trustees didn’t waste time. Naming and approving Kent Scribner was the first item they took up, followed by a brief video biography with music.

Then with a microphone in hand, Scribner addressed those in the audience.

“I appreciate the warm Texas welcome and I’m very eager to get started,” he said with a smile. “I’ve had a wonderful run in Phoenix, I’m in my 8th year in the Phoenix Union High School district.”

Kent Paredes Scribner has overseen 16 high schools in Phoenix, with about 27,000 students. Arizona gives his district a letter grade of C with six schools earning that grade.  Six of his high schools got B’s and two earned A’s.

Fort Worth has more than three times the number of students than Scribner’s Phoenix district, and they aren’t just high school kids. He said a special Fort Worth focus would be on early childhood education and building leadership teams among employees.

“I don’t believe the job of a leader is to create followers,” Scribner told those attending the board meeting. “I believe the job of a leader is to create leaders. I look forward to hit the ground listening, because you know where the opportunities are, you know where the challenges are and I want to learn that from you.”

After his speech, Scribner told reporters his family lives in North Texas, and their pull was powerful.

“Dad’s a cancer survivor and my sister and her family are here as well,” Scribner explained. “So it’s an opportunity to continue my professional career but also to reconnect with family. In a way, even though I’m not a Texan yet, I feel like I’m coming home.”

Scribner comes to a district where the state says 21 schools need improving. That’s out of 146 total campuses. Overall, the Fort Worth district met state standards.

Trustee Ann Sutherland’s looking forward to working with the superintendent.  

“We hope to have him until he’s ready to retire,” Sutherland said. “That was part of his goal and that’s part of ours. He’s not one who’s moved around like many superintendents.”

Board member Tobi Jackson says Scribner faces several challenges in his new district, and not just closing the achievement gap, especially among some minority, low-income, and non-English speaking students.

“Another challenge that he will face,” Jackson explained, “is that we have a huge bond right now as well. So he’s not just coming in for student achievement and to run a district, he’s also going to be running a bond.”

Jackson says he’s more than up to the task. The board’s expected to offer Scribner a contract after the state-mandated 21-day waiting period. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.