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Proposed Plan for District of Innovation Now Available

Duncanville ISD

Proposed District of Innovation Plan

The District of Innovation is a designation offered by the state that allows school districts the opportunity for more local control and decision-making power. Becoming a District of Innovation would allow Duncanville ISD to adopt a District of Innovation Plan that includes exemptions from most of the same state laws as open enrollment school districts. On March 20th, the Duncanville ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution to begin the process of becoming a District of Innovation. The Board appointed a District Advisory Committee made up of teachers, staff and community members to develop Duncanville ISD’s Innovation Plan. If adopted, this Innovation Plan will be effective for five years.  

 

The Committee proposes the following exemptions from current statutes to be included in Duncanville ISD’s Innovation Plan:

 

 

 

 

1.  Minimum Attendance for Class Credit or Final Grade (90% Rule)

Current law: Texas Education Code §25.092:

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.

                                                                                                                                            

FEC (Legal)

Rationale: This would provide flexibility for students who:

• are unable to attend class in the traditional brick and mortar building because of illness or family

   concerns

• would benefit from a different time structure to the school day

• would benefit from virtual and online classes in addition to or in place of the traditional classroom

    setting

 

·       

Innovation: TEC Ch. 12A.003(b)(1)(A) innovative curriculum, instructional methods, and provisions regarding community participation, campus governance, and parental involvement

 

Exemption from this requirement will provide the district with the flexibility it needs to consider instruction and credits in ways that make sense for students, especially our students who have unique needs. This exemption can be used to craft programs for nontraditional students, students with special needs, and even our youngest students to best meet their needs. Instruction does not always have to take place in a classroom seat, and this exemption will allow the district to explore more learning opportunities for various groups of students.

 


 

2.  Length of Instructional Day

Current law: Texas Education Code §25.082:

For each school year, a school district must operate so that the district provides at least 75,600 minutes of instruction, including intermissions and recesses. (A full school day is considered to be 420 minutes, and a half school day is considered 210 minutes.)

EC (Legal)

Rationale:  Relief from this statute could potentially allow the following:

•   Individual campus flexibility, independence and creativity

•   Additional opportunities for teacher professional development and collaboration

•   Reduced number of minutes for pre-kindergarten students without the need for a TEA waiver

•   Individualized, flexible opportunities for alternative high school students

 

While the District seeks freedom from this law, the following should be considered:

·        There should be guidelines to establish minimum/maximum school day lengths

·        Any potential loss of funding to the district, especially relating to pre-kindergarten

·        Flexible scheduling could be a challenge, especially for working parents

Innovation:  TEC Ch. 12A.003(b)(1)(B) Modifications to the school day or year

 

Exemption from this requirement will provide the district with the ability to make creative decisions regarding professional development and teacher collaboration time. Flexibility in this area will also give the district the ability to consider options for individualized plans for students who have life circumstances that prevent them from attending traditional high schools (e.g. full time work, pregnancy/parenting, etc.) and for early childhood learning opportunities.

 

 

3.  Uniform School Start Date: First Day of Instruction

Current law: Texas Education Code §25.0811 and 25.0812:

A school district may not begin instruction before the 4th Monday in August.

EB (Legal)

Rationale:  Relief from this statute could potentially allow the following:

•  First semester complete before winter break; instructional pacing is more beneficial

•  More instructional days before state assessments; flexibility for different types of learners and

    learning needs

•   More professional development opportunities during the school year for teachers

•   Full days for professional development opportunities as opposed to half days

•  The calendar could be more aligned with college schedules, providing our students with

    additional opportunities

 

While the District seeks freedom from this law, the following should be considered:

·        Cost of starting early (e.g. cooling cost in August) should be considered

·        All administrative regulations and policies would be followed in relation to extreme heat during recess

·        Adjustments to the professional development calendar will need to be addressed

·        Start date should be no earlier than August 15th, the second week in August, and preferably no later than the third week of August

Innovation:  TEC Ch. 12A.003(b)(1)(B) Modifications to the school day or year

 

The current law that prohibits the district from starting school before the third Monday of August forces the district into a calendar that has minimal opportunity for teacher professional development, requires the semester to possibly end after the winter break, and provides negligible time for summer school before state-mandated assessment re-takes in the summer. Starting school even one week earlier can help minimize the negative impacts the district sees in these area. Starting early will allow for creative scheduling that allows for more intentional teacher professional development throughout the school year and also allows students to have a schedule that is more conducive to their learning.

 

 

4.  Campus Behavior Coordinator

Current law: Texas Education Code §37.0012:

A person at each campus must be designated to serve as the campus behavior coordinator.

 

FO (Legal)

Rationale:

•     The campus behavior coordinator (CBC) is primarily responsible for maintaining student discipline and the implementation of Education Code Chapter 37

•     On large campuses (e.g. Duncanville High School with 4,300 students), one individual is designated as the CBC to manage discipline

•     It is necessary to have additional administrators provide notice to parents about disciplinary incidents

 

Innovation:  TEC Ch. 12A.003(b)(1)(E) any other innovations prescribed by the board of trustees

 

Exemption from this requirement will provide campuses the opportunity to allow campus administrators to fully understand and get to know the students in their caseload rather than sourcing all discipline matters to one employee designated as a campus behavior coordinator. While it is imperative that all employees work together and be informed as to the discipline that is occurring on a campus, it is just as crucial for students to depend on an administrator they know and trust in all facets of their education, including their discipline.  Each campus should have the freedom to designate more than one campus behavior coordinator to best meet the needs of their students and teachers.

 

 

5.  State Certification Requirements for Teachers and Other Educators

Current law: Texas Education Code §21.003, §21.053:

A person may not be employed as a teacher by a district unless the person holds an appropriate certificate or permit issued by the appropriate state agency.

DBA (Legal)

Rationale:  By exempting the District from this law, the District:

will have the flexibility to hire university and college instructors to provide more dual credit courses in the district

will have the flexibility to hire those with industry expertise to provide more CTE courses (e.g. HB 5 and CTE courses)

will have the flexibility to hire teachers on a part-time basis for secondary courses

 

Innovation: TEC Ch. 12A.003(b)(1)(E) any other innovations prescribed by the board of trustees

 

Exemption from this requirement will provide much needed flexibility to hire the most qualified candidate for teaching positions. With an increasing number of innovative courses created after implementation of House Bill 5, finding exceptionally qualified applicants in specific fields for CTE courses who are also certified teachers is increasingly difficult and in some cases impossible.  This flexibility will allow the District to provide more dual credit and CTE courses, as well as hire teachers on a part-time basis to support secondary courses.  The district will continue to seek traditionally certified candidates for all teachings positions, however this exemption will allow the district to provide more opportunities in select courses when there is a lack of certified candidates.

 

 

 

6.  Probationary Contracts for Teachers Under 5 of 8 Rule:

(specifically second probationary year for teachers hired under 5 of 8 rule)

Current law: Texas Education Code §21.102

Probationary Contracts for first year teachers cannot exceed a maximum of three years,   and for teachers new to a district that have been in public education for at least 5 of last 8 years cannot exceed a maximum of one year. 

DCA (Legal)

 Rationale:  By exempting the District from this law, the District:

•  will have the flexibility of hiring a probationary teacher for a second year

•  will have the flexibility to provide for more growth and coaching for the teacher 

 Innovation:  TEC Ch. 12A.003(b)(1)(E) any other innovations prescribed by the board of trustees

 Exemption from this requirement will provide campus administrators and hiring officials with additional time to fully assess and support a teacher hired under the 5 of 8 rule. It is the goal of the district to offer a term contract after the first year to teachers under the 5 of 8 Rule, but this exemption will provide more flexibility to continue to work with first year teachers under the 5 of 8 Rule that may otherwise not receive a Chapter 21 term contract for a second year in the district.


The Committee Opted NOT to Move Forward With the Following Exemptions:

 

Student/Teacher Ratio:

The District may not enroll more than 22 students in K-4 grade levels without an approved waiver.  If waiver is granted, written notice shall be provided to parents/parental guardians detailing the class and the number of children in the class.

 

Teacher Planning and Preparation Periods:

Currently, teachers are entitled to at least 450 minutes within each two-week period for preparing to teach, conducting parent conferences, and evaluating students’ work.