FORT WORTH, Texas - Earlier this week, Fort Worth ISD was forced to put its own mask mandate on hold again, under another court injunction.
Wednesday, the superintendent spoke about challenges and opportunities for the district, but not the mask issue.
Fort Worth ISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner told a business group that high schools in the district are finding ways to emerge from the challenges of the pandemic.
He also responded to those who are critical of his leadership.
"The future workforce of Fort Worth, they are in our schools today. They are rich in diversity. They are different than generations prior," Scribner said.
In a conversation to merge education and business, Scribner said Fort Worth ISD has navigated the pandemic.
"We’ve constructed four new Wi-Fi towers in our neediest zip codes, east Fort worth, stop Six, Morningside, and Rosemont," he said.
He added the district is using the unforeseen challenges to better prepare students for their futures.
"We have an opportunity now with additional funding from the federal government to extend the school day, the school year," Scribner said.
An obvious omission from the chamber of commerce discussion was the controversy engulfing the school district: the legal quagmire stemming from its mask mandate.
The district, under a second temporary restraining order, cannot enforce its rule, but continues to encourage students and staff to wear face masks while a lawsuit from a group of parents works its way through the courts.
Scribner has faced criticism in wake of what some call the district’s growing number of underperforming schools
"I think the last batch of valid reliable data showed that we were on the right track. Unfortunately, with the pandemic, we were probably the district most disappointed we couldn’t take the spring 2020 assessment. Our achievement was heading in the right direction. The pandemic came, it created a new baseline," he said.
Some have even called for Scribner to step down, a thought he continues to dismiss.
"My job is to focus on students. I know there are folks on both sides of the continuum, some very supportive, some not so much so. That’s no concern to me. My concern is preparing every student for success in college, career and community leadership," he said.
Scribner also gave credit to Fort Worth's business and faith communities for their roles in supporting the district throughout the pandemic.