The Fort Worth ISD school board held a special meeting on March 29, 2022. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

The hunt for Fort Worth ISD’s next superintendent is on.

The school board on April 12 tapped Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Schaumburg, Illinois, to lead its search for the district’s top administrator. The vote was 8-0.

Fort Worth ISD did not disclose HYA Associates’ fee nor its search proposal. The cost could vary depending on the size and type of district. For example, HYA Associates cost Midland ISD $33,000 and Houston ISD capped expenses at $75,000. Outside of Texas, HYA Associates charged the Los Angeles Unified School District $160,000.

The Fort Worth Report filed an open records request for HYA Associates’ superintendent search proposal.

HYA Associates beat out three other firms that trustees interviewed. The firm is currently looking for superintendents for 21 school districts across the nation. None of the districts HYA Associates is working with are in Texas, where 65 superintendent positions are open. 

Trustees have not expressed concerns about the number of districts HYA Associates has on its plate. However, some board members have acknowledged the search may be more complicated because more superintendents across the state, including nearby Dallas ISD, are quitting, increasing competition for high quality candidates.

Fort Worth ISD – with about 75,000 students -– will be one of the largest districts for which HYA Associates works. Currently, the firm is looking for a superintendent for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, a suburban district with 84,000 students outside of Washington, D.C., in Maryland, and the San Francisco Unified School District, which has 50,500 students in California. 

In the coming weeks, the school board will establish key components of the search process, including a timeline.

Already, the school board has an eye toward candidates who have a track record of turning around student outcomes in an urban district. The next superintendent must be, as Board President Tobi Jackson describes it, a transformational leader who stays in Fort Worth ISD long enough to see results.

“There are good things going on here, and I believe that we just transform from where we are to the next level,” she said.

Selecting a search firm is a crucial step for the school board. Under trustees’ direction, the firm will be expected to lead the charge to guide the superintendent selection process. Together, they have about five months to find a new leader until current Superintendent Kent Scribner leaves his position on Aug. 31, 16 days after the 2022-23 school year begins.

The calendar Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates presented to the Fort Worth ISD school board for the superintendent search if the firm is selected. (Courtesy of Fort Worth ISD)

HYA Associates anticipates the school board naming a lone finalist for superintendent on June 28, according to a suggested search process timeline presented in March. State law mandates a 21-day period between when a lone finalist is named and when that person officially starts as superintendent. The next superintendent could start on Aug. 15, the first day of school, if HYA’s timeline is met.

Community input is a top priority for HYA Associates. The firm plans to hold 30 to 35 meetings to listen to what Fort Worth ISD residents, parents, students and other officials want to see in the next superintendent. Company officials expect more than 1,000 people to participate.

All of those comments will be condensed into what HYA Associates calls a leadership profile, a document detailing the characteristics the Fort Worth ISD community wants in its next superintendent. This profile will form the basis for the job posting HYA Associates will advertise for superintendent applications, which the firm will receive on its website, and be used to weed out candidates.

HYA Associates likely will give trustees a list of up to six candidates to examine before the board picks who it wants as superintendent.

“We’re looking for the right fit for Fort Worth ISD,” Jim Largent, an associate at the firm, told trustees in March.

Reporter Kristen Barton contributed to this report.

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at jacob.sanchez@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Jacob Sanchez

Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. His work has appeared in the Temple Daily Telegram, The Texas Tribune and the Texas Observer. He is a graduate of St. Edward’s University.

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