The Fort Worth ISD school board’s relationship with Superintendent Angélica Ramsey is in its early stages.
Managing that relationship and setting expectations is key for trustees. Eight candidates are vying for three seats to have a say in what is and isn’t important in that working relationship — and decide whether the superintendent is the right person to lead the district.
Ramsey is in her seventh month leading Fort Worth ISD. Trustees hired her in September to succeed Kent Scribner, who left his position after more than six years.
She is the sole employee who reports directly to trustees.
When she was hired, Ramsey listed three of her priorities: Accelerate learning for students; work through the district’s 2017 and 2021 bonds; and improve district finances.
The board and Ramsey agreed to a three-year contract that sets her annual salary at $335,000 — with the potential to increase her salary as much as $25,000 every year.
District 5 candidate Josh Yoder wants to set goals for Ramsey — and hold her accountable if she falls short.
However, he also wants to be sure she has everything she needs to actually succeed.
“My job is to clearly state what my expectations are and clearly define her role,” Yoder said. “You are our one and only employee. Do you have the tools available to achieve what we’re asking you to do?”
For Yoder, it is too early to tell how Ramsey has done. He supports her cuts to administration.
Incumbent CJ Evans’ expectations for Ramsey are straightforward: Boost third-grade literacy rates and turn Fort Worth ISD into an A-rated district. In 2022, the state rated the district as a B.
Evans plans to hold Ramsey accountable for both — and any other goals the board sets.
Ramsey has been a good leader who is direct with the issues facing Fort Worth ISD, a quality residents wanted, Evans said.
“In terms of that relationship, it’s being in constant communication,” Evans said. “I make a point to communicate with her at least once a week.”
Candidate Kevin Lynch expects the superintendent to report to the board, not the other way around.
Ramsey is the leader with the right skillset, talent and experience to turn around Fort Worth ISD, Lynch said. But all of that means nothing without proper goals, he said.
“It’s great to talk about a goal that we want to do this, but when that goal doesn’t have the strategies, tactics, programs and everything else you need to get it accomplished, all of a sudden you kick the can down the road,” Lynch said.
In District 3, incumbent Quinton Phillips thinks the board hired the right superintendent.
Phillips described picking Ramsey as an investment. As a Latina, she reflects the majority of students in Fort Worth ISD, he said. More than six out of 10 students in Fort Worth ISD are Latino.
Phillips has big hopes for Ramsey.
“I’m hoping she retires in Fort Worth ISD when all is said and done,” he said. “But, of course, we’re seven months in and that remains to be seen.”
Ramsey has made decisions that previous superintendents could not do, candidate Valeria Nevárez said. As an example, she pointed to Ramsey’s cuts to excess jobs to deal with falling enrollment.
That decision was bold, Nevárez said.
However, Nevárez noted that Ramsey needs to be careful and not harm low-income communities.
“I would work with her and build a relationship with her and keep her accountable,” Nevárez said. “That’s our job as a trustee. Keeping her accountable and making sure that everything she does is benefiting the students.”
Candidate Mar’Tayshia James sees Ramsey as the opposite of her predecessor. Ramsey shows up to schools, goes to community meetings and listens to parents, students and other residents, she said.
So far, Ramsey has done a good job, but James said the superintendent still has room for growth.
“I feel as though where she’s at right now she’s doing OK. I feel as though with her being involved inside the schools already now, she’s playing a part with helping out as well,” James said.
Ramsey has laid a solid foundation after listening to residents for the past several months, incumbent Tobi Jackson said.
Now, Jackson expects Ramsey to take what she learned and determine how to improve academic performance, focus funding on students and communicate better to residents.
“The way we do it is we set good goals,” Jackson said. “We check in on those goals and if we’re not hitting them, we look at the need to pivot and what we need to do differently.”
District 2 candidate Pat Carlson has not met the superintendent yet. However, she has seen Ramsey at the two school board meetings she has attended.
If elected, Carlson plans to get to know Ramsey better, look for common ground and learn more about her past.
So far, Carlson supports the cuts Ramsey is making and said those are changes she would have called for and supported as trustee.
“I would certainly try to work with her,” Carlson said. “I would give her the benefit of the doubt.”
The school board and the superintendent are still setting new goals. New board members likely will have a say in what those targets are. Trustees are expected to finalize the objectives in the summer, according to officials.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com 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.