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Fort Worth Superintendent Cutting Top Positions, Freeing Up Money For Schools

Bill Zeeble
This week, Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner announced major changes, including eliminating several high-level positions and reassigning staff to low-performing schools.

Fort Worth’s new school district superintendent is making big changes. This week, trustees unanimously approved a plan that would cut 10 executive-level positions, reassign central office employees and put more money into struggling schools.

Superintendent Kent P. Scribner said in order to boost academic achievement, his leadership team has to shrink.

That means eliminating all deputy superintendent positions and moving 70 teaching specialists from the main office to schools to help support teachers.

This reorg would leave Scribner with a cabinet of 10 and could save the district more than $1.3 million – money, he said, could be better spent.

“We’ve seen some positive trends in our districts, however, not for every student,” Scribner told trustees at Tuesday night’s board meeting. “Graduation rates, while improving, are not improving fast enough. And we’ve seen persistent inequities across our school district.”

The Fort Worth school district has 86,000 students and 129 schools – 21 of them are rated “improvement required” by the state.

Scribner said his new leadership team will be able to make improvements in four key areas: kindergarten readiness, elementary reading, middle school math and high school graduation.

“As with all of the other departments, I would expect the Chief Academic Officer to come back with a comprehensive reorganization of his or her division,” he said. “Consolidating first all literacy under one single director of literacy and language – that’s been a challenge of ours.”

Board president Jacinto Ramos said the changes are long overdue. One reason he said trustees picked Scribner for the job is that he told them the district was top heavy.

“By flattening the organization, it will allow more resources to come into the campuses,” Ramos said. “It will allow people to build relationships with the students, with the parents and the community and give that extra support that’s needed in an equitable manner.”

Some employees whose positions will be cut will be retiring soon. Other positions vacant and won’t be filled. The district hasn’t said how many employees could be laid off.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.