A District of Innovation is a concept passed by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842, effective immediately, that gives traditional independent school districts most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools. To access these flexibilities, a school district must adopt an innovation plan, as set forth in the Texas Education Code chapter 12A. (TASB)
House Bill (HB) 1842, passed during the 84th Legislative Session, permits Texas public school districts to become Districts of Innovation and to obtain exemption from certain provisions of the Texas Education Code. On December 12, 2016, the Little Elm Independent School District’s Board of Trustees passed a Resolution to adopt a District of Innovation Plan to increase local control over District operations and to support innovation and local initiatives. The adoption of this plan seeks to increase the District’s flexibility in order to improve educational outcomes for the benefit of students and our community.
On December 12, 2016, the Board appointed a District of Innovation District Advisory Committee comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders representing LEISD. The Committee met on January 11, 2017, and on January 19, 2017 to discuss and vote on the Local Innovation Plan.
The term of the Plan is for five years, beginning July 1, 2017 and ending June 30, 2022, unless terminated or amended earlier by the Board of Trustees in accordance with the law. If, within the term of this Plan, other areas of operations are to be considered for flexibility as part of HB 1842, the Board will nominate a committee to consider and propose additional exemptions in the form of an amendment. Any amendment adopted by the Board will adhere to the same term as the original plan. The District may not implement two separate plans at any one time.
The District proposes flexibility in the following areas:
A. Certification Required (TEC 21.003) (DBA LEGAL) (DBA LOCAL)
TEC 21.003 states that “a person may not be employed as a teacher, teacher intern or teacher trainee, librarian, educational aide, administrator, educational diagnostician, or school counselor by a school district unless the person holds an appropriate certificate or permit issued as provided by Subchapter B.” The current certification requirements impede the District’s ability to hire professionals with industry experience to teach Career and Technical Education (CTE Courses). In order to provide more students the opportunity to take such courses and obtain professional certifications, the District seeks to establish its own local qualification requirements for such courses in lieu of the requirements set forth in law.
Flexibility to establish its own teacher certification requirements affords the District the following advantages:
B. Uniform School Calendar (TEC 25.0811) (TEC 25.0812) (EB LEGAL) (EB LOCAL) Texas Education Code Section 25.0811 states that a school district may not begin instruction before the fourth Monday in August. Texas Education Code Section 25.0812 states that a school district may not schedule the last day of school before May 15. Local control of the instructional calendar affords the District the following advantages:
C. Teacher Contracts (TEC 21.401) (DCB LOCAL) (DCB LEGAL) Texas Education Code Section 21.401 states that an educator employed under a 10-month contract must provide a minimum of 187 days of service.
This Innovation Plan is designed to create parameters within which the District will operate, in order to provide additional student opportunities. Specific implementation plans will be developed by the appropriate campuses and departments. Adjustments to Board Policy will be researched and adopted where appropriate.