During the 84th Legislative Session, House Bill 1842 (also known as the “Districts of Innovation” bill) was passed by the Legislature, giving traditional independent schools most of the flexibilities available to the state’s open enrollment charter schools. Essentially, an innovation plan allows a district to exempt themselves from many of the Texas Education Code (TEC) requirements, thus gaining greater local control. To be eligible to apply for this designation, a district must have “Met Standard” on the state’s accountability system. The term of the designation as a district of innovation may not exceed 5 years.
The idea behind Districts of Innovation is that a local school district may want to pursue specific innovations in curriculum, instruction, parent or community involvement, discipline management, school calendar, budgeting, or other areas. The developed innovation plan is expected to be unique to each school district, allowing for local values, needs, and goals to be incorporated into the plan.
Some areas where districts can gain flexibility include, but are not limited to: school start date, minimum minutes of instruction, class size ratio, student attendance rules, teacher certification and employment contracts, teacher appraisal system, certain purchasing contract requirements, and provisions related to student discipline.
Requirements that cannot be exempted as part of the innovation plan include: District Governance, PEIMS reporting, criminal history checks, curriculum and graduation requirements, bilingual education, special education, pre-K programs, state assessment and accountability requirements, financial accountability, open meetings, and public records rules.
Thrall ISD took the first step in exploring this opportunity in 2017, and the approved plan by the Education Commissioner is available here.
*Posted on TISD Website 04/18/17 and Ratified on 06/07/17 by Thrall ISD Board of Trustees by a unanimous vote of 7-0
**Revision approved by the Board May 23, 2018.