What do we know about the District of Innovation (DI) opportunity?
In the summer of 2015, HB 1842 was passed during the 84th Texas Legislative Session. The bill provides Texas public school districts the opportunity to be designated as Districts of Innovation.
Districts of Innovation may be exempted from a number of state statutes and will have:
- greater local control as the decision makers over the educational and instructional model for students;
- increased freedom and flexibility, with accountability, relative to state mandates that govern educational programming; and
- empowerment to innovate and think differently.
What is the process for becoming a District of Innovation?
A high level overview of the timeline is as follows:
- April 18, 2016: The Manor ISD Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution to consider developing a Local Innovation Plan (LIP).
- June 2, 2016: Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery joins the district, and his vision for the future of Manor ISD encouraged the expansion of the Local Innovation Plan.
- June 20, 2016: A Public Hearing was held during the regularly scheduled Manor ISD board meeting to consider whether or not Manor ISD should develop a plan for designation as a District of Innovation.
- June 24, June 27, June 30, July 11: A 28-member Local Innovation Committee was formed, drawing on stakeholders from across the district and community. The Committee met on multiple days to discuss the components of this Local Innovation Plan.
- July 14, 2016: The Manor ISD Board adopted a resolution to approve the District to move forward with notification of Intention to Vote on Adoption of Local Innovation Plan.
- July 14, 2016: The Local Innovation Plan was posted on the Manor ISD website for public review and feedback.
- August 11, 2016: The District Advisory Team participated in an information session about the Local Innovation Plan.
- August 15, 2016: The District Advisory Team voted to approve the Local Innovation Plan.
- August 15, 2016: The Manor ISD Board of Trustees voted to adopt the Local Innovation Plan.
Will the Local Innovation Plan affect my contract or duty-free lunch?
No, the Local Innovation Plan has no impact on contracts or duty free lunch.
Why is the Local Innovation Plan so general?
The Local Innovation Plan was developed to create parameters within which the district will operate and give Manor ISD the flexibility that is available to charter schools. The plan is not prescriptive. The District Advisory Team will work closely with the Superintendent to make recommendations regarding the Local Innovation Plan.
How will teachers have a voice regarding processes related to the exemptions?
The District Advisory Team, which is composed of teachers from every campus, will work closely with the Superintendent to make recommendations regarding the Local Innovation Plan.
How will the Local Innovation Plan affect my class sizes?
Manor ISD believes that a small class size plays a positive role in classroom environment. Before adopting the Local Innovation Plan, the district was required to apply for a waiver with the Texas Education Agency when a Kindergarten - 4th grade class exceeded the state mandated 22-1 ratio. The waivers were never rejected, and the process was primarily bureaucratic. More importantly, research says it is the teacher in the classroom that has the greatest impact on student performance, not absolute class size. The ability to allow one or two additional students to enroll in a classroom while the district balances class sizes will prevent the district from engaging in time-consuming paperwork requirements and may prevent teachers from being moved from school to school. The District Advisory Team will work closely with the Superintendent to make recommendations to local guidelines.
How will the Local Innovation Plan affect my planning time?
The Local Innovation Plan will have little to no affect on planning times. Manor ISD believes in building the capacity of teachers to engage in the Professional Learning Communities process. The district understands that teachers need common planning times to work together to positively impact student achievement.