Superintendent of Schools, Fort Bend ISD
Charles E. Dupre was named superintendent of Fort Bend ISD in April. Over the past five months, some of his top priorities have been to engage in an active listening tour throughout the FBISD community and to increase the level of community involvement, the development of a district strategic plan and a master facilities plan—which will be finalized in the spring—and to begin strengthening the district’s processes and systems.
Dupre first joined FBISD in 1995 as an internal auditor. He soon became the district’s budget officer before being named chief financial officer and associate superintendent. In his first 11 years with FBISD, student enrollment grew 30 percent to about 60,000 students and a dozen school facilities were constructed. With more than 70,600 students starting the 2013–14 school year in FBISD, the growth that the district has seen is expected to continue.
In 2006, Dupre was named superintendent of Pflugerville ISD. During his time with PISD, the district’s standardized test scores and graduation rates continued to rise.
Before beginning his career in educational administration, Dupre worked in the accounting and energy fields. While attending Harding University in Arkansas, Dupre had a desire to become an educator, but instead he received his BBA in accounting in 1984. More than 15 years later, Dupre attended the University of Houston and received his master’s in educational administration in 2003. Dupre remains actively involved in his own education as well as his students’ as he works towards a doctorate degree from Lamar University in Beaumont, where he is expected to graduate in May 2014.
For long-term goals, Dupre and his team plan to work toward a 100 percent graduation rate by 2025.
How has your past experience prepared you for your current position?
My heart has always been in education. In any educational entity today, you have the educational side and the operational side. We are responsible for our community’s greatest resources—their children and their money. I am responsible for making sure our academic and instructional programs are effective and meeting the needs for our kids, that we have transparent processes and that we spend taxpayer’s money effectively. That is where my educational background through my master’s and doctorate work pair nicely with my degree in accounting and my business experience.
What are some of the roles of the superintendent?
There are a number of key roles. Leading with integrity is the bottom line. If we make mistakes, we own them, we fix them and we move forward in a productive way. Another big part of my job is engaging the community. I can determine how we will operate as an organization, but the community has to have their voice heard [about]the values of this organization and the services we provide. Ultimately, the community funds these services and their children are affected by them. That’s a big part of my job—that we are appropriately engaging the community. Another big part is working with the school board. We will never be the organization we need to be if the team of eight—the seven trustees and me—do not have a strongly aligned working relationship.
A school boundary study will take place this spring. Can you discuss this process?
The boundary study will be an extension of the planning work that began last month at the educational futures conference. In the past, boundaries have been considered autonomous from everything else. By [the district]going through this planning process, we will be able to get the community’s sentiment about re-drawing boundary lines or whether they would prefer us to add wings, building additions or expanding capacity at some of our schools, or whether they are financially committed to building new schools. We want everyone to come to the table so they can be part of the solutions moving forward. It enhances the process to have many people’s opinions.
FBISD participated in a curriculum audit last spring. How has this been helpful, and what are the next steps?
The facilities audit, the curriculum audit and other work we have been doing tells us that we have some very strong bright spots—some great things going on in this district—but we do not have good alignment of all of our systems. We have 9,500 employees. We need the eight executive team members working solidly as a team on behalf of this organization, and they each then need to get those operating under them working as a team. By doing that, everything we do will be fully aligned to support what is going on in our classrooms every day. When that happens, that is when teachers have the freedom to be the best teachers they know how to be.
What are some of the challenges that you see facing the district in coming years?
Our greatest challenge is going to be sustaining high levels of communication and high levels of community engagement. Our district is going to continue to grow. The district is very large and diverse in every way from cultural and ethnic differences to economic differences. That, I think, is my greatest opportunity—to help bring the entire district under one tent with all schools operating in alignment as one organization in an environment where every single citizen in this community cares about every single child, no matter where they live.