Keller school district officials took an important step in taking more local control last week by convening a District of Innovation Committee.
During the 2015 session, the Texas Legislature approved House Bill 1842, allowing school districts to adopt some of the freedoms granted to charter schools if trustees adopt a resolution declaring their intention to become a District of Innovation, convene a committee to recommend changes and write new local policies to replace the state policies. The law allows changes only in certain areas, like school start date, student discipline and teacher certification.
“We’re looking for opportunities to create more local control and flexibility,” said Superintendent Randy Reid.
The 83-member committee—composed of teachers, parents, administrators, community members and representatives from higher education—will meet several times over the next two months as a large group and in four subcommittees to develop recommendations.
The subcommittees cover possible areas to adopt local policies in lieu of state regulations: employee focus areas like planning periods and certification requirements, classroom standards and interventions for struggling students, calendar and class size and student discipline.
Reid told group members that of the 21 districts that have posted District of Innovation plans to date with the Texas Education Agency, 81 percent claimed exemption from the calendar start date.
Members of the calendar subcommittee talked about the advantages of starting the school year earlier in August. Under the current law, the 2017-18 school year will begin Aug. 28. Benefits of starting a few weeks sooner include ending the first semester at winter break and giving teachers and students significant breaks every nine weeks.
Reid said that the input would be used both for developing recommendations for the District of Innovation plan and for strategic planning for the future.
“I think it’s interesting that we’re getting the chance to have some input on potential changes in the district,” siad Leigh Ann Stone, committee member and teacher at Bear Creek Intermediate School.
Parent Kris Kittle agreed.
“I think it’s great that the district is gathering input from so many constituents,” Kittle said.
For more information, go to kellerisd.net/district/DOI or follow the process on Twitter: @KellerISD_DOI.