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.
Local control: Districts decide which flexibilities best suit their local needs.
Customization: Districts can create an innovation plan for a level of school (e.g., only high schools), grade level, or a single campus.Autonomy: Districts must submit a district of innovation plan to the commissioner of education, but approval is not required. Flexibility: Districts will have the flexibility to implement practices similar to charter schools, including exemptions from certain mandates.
- Uniform School Start Date (first and last day of school)
- Minimum Minutes of Instructions (length of the school day)
- Class Size Ratio
- 90% Attendance Rule (compulsory attendance still applies)
- Teacher Certification (except as required by federal law)
- Certain Purchasing and Contract Requirements
- Board resolution (December 12, 2016)
- Public hearing (December 12, 2016)
- Board appoints committee (December 12, 2016)
- Plan is developed
- Plan is posted for 30 days, plan is sent to TEA Commissioner, public meeting
- School board may approve plan
- Plan in effect for 5 years
Possible Exemptions for LEISD
- Teacher Certification (CTE Only)
- Uniform Start Date (Calendar Flexibility)
- Teacher Contracts (Flexibility from Required 187 Days w/o impacting pay)
Teacher Certification (CTE Only)
- Potential to hire quality candidates direct from industry.
- Easier transition from industry to teaching.
- Could hire a certified industry professional to teach a specialized certification course without hiring them full time.
- Better selection of candidates to pick from.
- Eliminating certifications will only apply to Career Tech courses.
- Background checks and fingerprinting is done for all LEISD employees.
- Teachers that do not get certified still have to take district required professional learning.
Uniform Start Date (Calendar Flexibility)
- Current law prohibits school district from starting school before the fourth Monday in August.
- Texas Education Code no longer defines 180 days of instruction as an acceptable school year. Instead, the requirement has been changed to at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, with one day defined as 420 minutes.
- Ensure balanced semesters - end prior to holiday break
- Balance of the TEKS/Scope and Sequence for first semester (including semester AP courses)
- Align calendar with colleges, AP and STAAR/EOC timelines
- Start before the 4th Monday of August and finish the year earlier
Teacher Contracts (Flexibility from Required 187 Days)
- Opportunity to reduce required contract days without reducing pay
- Bring number of teacher days closer to number of student minutes (no more students days - yearly instructional minutes)
Texas Association of School Boards - Districts of Innovation
48 districts are listed as DOIs on TEA’s site with many more beginning the process.