District of Innovation
A District of Innovation (DOI) is a concept passed by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842, effective immediately, giving traditional 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 Texas Education Code chapter 12A.
Using the District of Innovation distinction, a local school district may want to pursue specific innovations in curriculum, instruction, parent or community involvement, school calendar, budgeting, or other ideas. An innovation plan also allows a school district to gain exemption from many Texas Education Code requirements. Essentially, innovation plans will be about local control. Each district can pursue designation as a District of Innovation for different reasons, and no two plans may look the same. Community members should note that each innovation plan will be unique to the local school district.
In CFBISD, the School Board voted to approve the pursuit of developing an Innovation Plan. The Board also appointed a District of Innovation Plan Committee that will work on an Innovation Plan. Once approved by the committee, the Innovation Plan was then presented to the District Improvement Committee for approval. Once approved by the District Improvement Committee, the plan was posted on the district’s website. The School Board will vote on the Innovation Plan at the February School Board Meeting.
The DOI Plan Committee studied the Board’s vision, mission, and goals, and the District Improvement Plan and also considered challenges and barriers in existing law that could be alleviated through strategies included in a DOI Plan. The following topics were identified to include in the Plan:
First Day of Instruction and possible
Flexibility in the school calendar regarding the first day of instruction
Length of Instructional Day for Pre-K
Teacher Certification for certain Career and Technology Education instructors, dance teachers at elementary Fine Arts Academies, and certain World Languages Instructors
The goal of the DOI Plan is to enhance local control and give the District greater flexibility to implement strategies and innovations that support the Board’s mission, vision, and goals, based on community and internal stakeholder input.
The district evaluated the DOI Plan and determined it would be beneficial to amend it. Innovations were evaluated by the District Improvement Council (DIC), and on April 25, 2022, the DIC approved the below-listed amendments by a majority vote. The amendments were presented to the Board of Trustees on May 5, 2022, and by a unanimous vote, approved the recommended innovations. The innovations are as follows:
Ninety Percent Rule - Exemption from Texas Education Code §25.092 (a): A student in any grade level from kindergarten through grade 12 may not be given credit or a final grade for a class unless the student is in attendance for at least 90 percent of the days the class is offered.
Innovation: This will allow campuses, using district procedures, to award credit to students not meeting the 90% rule, if approved by the campus attendance committee, after the student/teacher, provides evidence of mastery of content.
Limitations on Student Suspensions - Exemption from Texas Education Code §37.005 (C), §37.006, and §37.007: Students below grade three may not be placed in out-of-school suspension unless the student engages in behaviors that include weapons, violent offenses, or being under the influence.
Innovation: This would allow administrators to utilize out-of-school suspensions when deemed appropriate for extreme behaviors by students below grade 3.
Elementary Counselors - Exemption from Texas Education Code §TEC 33.002(b): A school district with 500 or more students enrolled in elementary school will employ a school counselor certified under the State Board for Educator Certification rules for each elementary school in the district. A school district shall employ at least one school counselor for every 500 elementary school students in the district. (FFEA LEGAL)
Innovation: Due to some campuses with small student populations, this innovation would allow CFB to have discretion when implementing the state's 1:500 counselor ratio in elementary schools.
Class Size Requirement – Exemption from Texas Education Code Statutory Citation: TEC §25.112. Modify the reporting structure that is in place.
Innovation: The waiver would not be presented in a board meeting for consideration and approval. All other current processes would continue, and the board would still receive the same information. The board will receive all information specific to class sizes for K-4th grade classes.
Probationary Contract §21.102 (b) – Exemption from Chapter 21 Probationary Contracts. Teachers with 5 of 8 years of experience will move to two years' probationary status from the current one year.
Innovation: Allows administrators enough time to effectively evaluate the full range of their skills and abilities.
Teacher Evaluations CFBISD adopted SGGs - Student Growth Goals - TEC §21.352: Appraisal system must be based on observable, job-related behavior, including 1) teachers' implementation of discipline management procedures; and 2) the performance of teachers' students (SLOs - Student Learning Objectives).
Innovation: By continuing to focus on PLCs (knowing students by name and by need) and our extensive MAP testing, teachers monitor the progress of ALL students - not limited to the four students identified on SLOs/SGGs.
The DOI Plan expires at the end of the 2022-23 school year and will be evaluated by the DIC to determine if the plan should be recommended to the Board of Trustees for renewal.