The Fort Smith School Board tapped Dr. Doug Brubaker as the pick to take over as school superintendent starting “before July 1, 2017,” pending contract negotiations. The unanimous decision was made at an afternoon meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15, from the Fort Smith Schools Service Center.
Dr. Brubaker was one of two finalists from an initial selection of six candidates, five of whom visited Fort Smith earlier this month for an initial round of interviews. One, David Pennington, dropped out prior to the selection. Brubaker and Dr. Mike Roth of Leavenworth, Kan., were chosen as the final two from those candidates and submitted to daylong interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday. Dr. Brubaker will replace Dr. Benny Gooden, who retired in April.
Gooden’s compensation package included a $202,000 annual salary, use of a district car, and participation in the Arkansas educator insurance and retirement programs. The new Superintendent position was advertised with these same benefits and an annual salary of $210,000, though Dr. Deanie Mehl, school board president, did not confirm whether that would be the final number after negotiations were complete.
Brubaker will serve out the current school year as the associate superintendent of Garland ISD in Garland, Texas. Prior to that, he served for six years as the assistant superintendent of Mansfield ISD in Mansfield, Texas.
He began his career in administration in Fort Worth’s Birdville ISD as the assistant principal of North Ridge Elementary School from 1998 to 2000. He has carried a superintendent certification for 10 years, which he earned through the University of Texas Permian Basin after attaining a doctorate from the University of North Texas in 2005.
Brubaker’s experience passing large millages made him a particularly attractive candidate for the board. Dr. Mehl, in a previous interview with Talk Business & Politics prior to Brubaker’s selection, touted his involvement “in a millage that was close to $500 million,” adding that “while he has not been a superintendent before, he has that experience.”
Related to that vision, Dr. Brubaker told Talk Business & Politics in an earlier interview that he wants Fort Smith “to be a destination district so that when people move to this area, they see it as somewhere they want to locate. And that is something businesses look at as well when they consider coming here.”
The goal, he noted, is to help the community as a whole buy into that vision. “I do have experience with increases for construction projects, technology, and security upgrades, those kinds of things, particularly in a growing district that I was a part of before going to Garland ISD. In Mansfield — that’s a smaller district — we opened two or three schools in one year in either 2008 or 2009. So I have experience with growth and construction projects and would be eager to put those skills to work here,” he said.
On Thursday, Dr. Mehl said Brubaker “will take our district into the future, and I think everyone in Fort Smith will be delighted with this hire.” Mehl also thanked Dr. Gordon Floyd for acting as the interim Fort Smith Schools Superintendent. “He has done a phenomenal job and because of his efforts, this district has had a seamless transition.”
Dr. Mehl acknowledged the transition has been “difficult,” but said the district’s teachers and administrators “handled it with extreme professionalism.”
Dr. Brubaker is married and has one child, a 4-year-old daughter. His wife is an educator, Dr. Mehl said, but per district guidelines, she will not be allowed to work with the Fort Smith School District as long as her husband is the superintendent.
Talk Business & Politics interviewed Dr. Brubaker, who was not in attendance at the board meeting, on Wednesday. The discussion is available at this link.