Fort Smith Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Doug Brubaker will leave Fort Smith for Texarkana to take on the role as superintendent for the Texarkana, Texas, Independent School District, the district announced Tuesday (Nov. 10).
TISD announced Brubaker is the lone finalist for the position following a favorable vote by the Texarkana, Texas, Board of Education.
“Taking on the superintendent role in Texarkana ISD represents a great move for our family professionally and personally, and we are very excited about it. It’s also important to share that Heather and I love Fort Smith and are grateful that our family has had the opportunity to live, work, and grow in such an exceptional community over the past four years,” Brubaker said.
Brubaker has served as FSPS superintendent since January 2017.
Texas law requires a 21-day waiting period between a school board’s action and the date that the employment contract may be signed. Brubaker is expected to start the new position Jan. 4. Brubaker was selected superintendent by the FSPS Board of Education in December 2016. He was one of two finalists from an initial selection of six candidates. Dr. Mike Roth of Leavenworth, Kan., was the other.
Brubaker replaced Dr. Benny Gooden, who retired in April 2016. He came to Fort Smith from Garland, Texas, were he was the associate superintendent of Garland ISD. 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 earned his superintendent certification through the University of Texas Permian Basin after attaining a doctorate from the University of North Texas in 2005.
While with FSPS, Brubaker worked with community members for the first millage increase in 31 years, which Fort Smith voters approved in 2018. The millage rate in Fort Smith increased from 36.5 mills to 42 mills and is expected to raise $120.822 million, $35 million of which will go toward district-wide safety improvements.
In addition to safety work, the millage plan included a new $13.724 million Career and Technology Center, now called the Peak Innovation Center, featuring specialized lab spaces and classrooms for courses in healthcare, information technology, and advanced manufacturing within the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) disciplines. The former Hutcheson shoe facility in east Fort Smith was donated to FSPS for use as the center in 2019, saving the district at least $3 million that had been budgeted to buy an existing building. The center is expected to have a construction cost of $8.4 million and to open in for the 2021-22 school year.
The millage increase also led to extensive renovations and expansion of Northside and Southside high schools, both of which will include freshmen campuses beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
FSPS Board President Bill Hanesworth said Brubaker’s announcement to leave Fort Smith took him by surprise.
“(But it is) understandable given the success the district has had under his tenure. I would compare it to a sports team that wins a national championship and suddenly the head coach and his assistants become targets for recruitment. In a sense we should feel a sense of pride that our district has attracted the attention from other districts recognizing our accomplishments,” Hanesworth said.
He said the board’s attention now turns to continuity of leadership.
“The timeliness of this transition is most important to continue the momentum we have built over the last several years. The Board understands the importance of leadership continuity and will begin its task immediately to ensure a smooth transition,” Hanesworth said.