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Santa Fe schools chief is top pick for Fort Worth job

SANTA FE – Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Joel Boyd is the lone finalist for the top position with the Fort Worth Independent School District.

During a special meeting Saturday morning, the Fort Worth district’s board of trustees voted 7-0 to pick Boyd as the school district’s next superintendent. Two members of the board weren’t present, but supported Boyd with letters of affirmation.

Texas law requires a 21-day waiting period after announcing a finalist before a contract can be offered, according to a FWISD spokeswoman.

BOYD: SFPS contract runs through 2016-17 school year (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

BOYD: SFPS contract runs through 2016-17 school year (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Boyd wasn’t ready to commit to accepting the job when he was contacted by the Journal on Saturday night. He said that, because of the three-week vetting process, there wasn’t even an offer on the table.

“I’m going to respect the process in Fort Worth and make sure that what’s happening there doesn’t create a distraction here in Santa Fe,” he said.

Boyd said he didn’t seek the job, but was contacted by a firm that had been hired to conduct a search for a new superintendent in Fort Worth. He said the fact that he was chosen was credit to the teachers, principals and staff he works with in Santa Fe.

“I can’t overemphasize the selection is testament to the hard work of our staff in Santa Fe and the progress our schools have made,” he said.

The news of Boyd’s selection came one day after Santa Fe Public Schools announced a 4.3 percentage point increase in its graduation rate. The graduation rate of 64.3 percent for the class of 2014 still remains below the state average of 68.5 percent.

School board president Steven Carrillo said he first learned that Boyd had interviewed with school officials in Fort Worth when Boyd confided in him and a few other school officials on Thursday.

Carrillo said the news didn’t come as a shock. “We realized when he was hired, with the scope of his talent, that at the 2½- or 3-year mark, there would be others who would be coming to court him,” he said.

Boyd, 35, who was hired in Santa Fe during the summer of 2012, received a contract extension last summer that takes him through the 2016-17 school year. He received a $9,000 raise at the same time, taking his salary up to $180,000, plus benefits.

Boyd said at the time he would use the raise to establish a scholarship program for students from low-income backgrounds.

Barbara Griffith, a spokeswoman with the Fort Worth district, said that the last full-time superintendent in Fort Worth made $335,000 per year. Patricia Linares has served as interim superintendent there since July of last year.

The Fort Worth school district is considerably larger than Santa Fe, with 135 schools, 86,000 students and a budget of $695 million. The Santa Fe district has 31 schools, 14,000 students and a budget of about $90 million.

“Dr. Boyd is a very competent educator who has experienced successes in closing achievement gaps and improving student academic performance,” FWISD Board President Norman Robbins said on Saturday. “He will be very visible in the community and has the ability to make people feel comfortable when meeting with them.”

Griffith said an independent firm conducted the search, but it was her understanding that Boyd had been selected from more than 100 applicants. She said the deadline to file for the position was Jan. 5.

When Boyd was hired in 2012, school board members said they were most attracted by Boyd’s knowledge, enthusiasm and energy.

He set about creating what he called a “system of world-class schools” by developing a five-year strategic plan and introducing a “differentiated approach” to learning designed to give greater autonomy to schools that were doing well. Boyd has worked to create partnerships between the schools and the community, and led the district through a period of secondary school reform.

If Boyd decides to leave, Carrillo said he will leave the district in good shape.

“He has an exceptional cabinet and exceptional principals; he didn’t accomplish what he’s done here by himself,” he said. “I have every confidence in the district and staff to continue forward with or without Joel as our superintendent. We have a great team.”

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