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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fort Worth Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner was on hand to greet parents and children as they arrived for the first day of school at the new, aboveground Washington Heights Elementary School.

Washington Heights was one of two FWISD schools built underground in the 1970’s. The school is near Meacham Airport, so the idea was to build the school underground to save energy and reduce noise from the planes. Only the gyms, a few entrances and a handful of portable buildings were visible from the street.

This morning Dr. Scribner was there to welcome the Pre-K through 5th grade students to the new 60,000 square foot, above ground, facility. The Superintendent said he had a plan when he joined the district and a lot has been accomplished. “Well it’s been a very exciting and eventful first year,” he said. “I started in October and we implemented an organizational redesign, where we eliminated administrative positions and pushed resources out to the schools, because that’s where the students are.”

That was last year.

Now Dr. Scribner is clear about what lies ahead for youngsters in the school district. He said, “Our focus this year is going to be on early childhood education, middle years math, and college and career preparedness. It’s our belief that if we invest on our students today we will have a vibrant and prosperous Fort Worth in the future.”

The Superintendent has also made reading a priority, especially for 3rd grade students. “We have a community movement happening in Fort Worth with great leadership from Mayor Price, with our business community, our faith leaders, all pulling the rope in the same direction so that we can have all 3rd graders in Fort Worth reading at grade level,” he said. “We want to make sure our students, from birth through 3rd grade, are prepared for success.”

Dr. Scribner made national headlines at the end of the last school year when the FWISD updated their non-discrimination policy to include transgender students. The new guidelines state that students in the district should be recognized and have access to the bathroom that is consistent with “the gender identity that each student consistently and uniformly asserts.”

When asked if he thought the issue had diverted focus away from other school matters, Dr. Scribner said, “It’s not a continued distraction in Fort Worth, because we’ve addressed it. We worked with our business leaders, with our faith leaders and we changed our ‘safety guidelines’ to ‘support guidelines’ that involve parents, counselors and teachers. Our focus is on teaching and learning and we’ve created a structure by which that issue is addressed. And we’re focused on preparing 87,000 students for success in college, career and community leadership.”

It was less than 24 hours before the start of classes for many school districts in Texas that a federal judge in Fort Worth temporarily blocked the Obama administration’s directive to public schools concerning transgender students.

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