Keller school district officials will begin exploring options for taking more local control through a new state law.
At the March board meeting, trustees approved a resolution to investigate becoming a District of Innovation. In the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature, lawmakers approved House Bill 1842, which allows districts to have much of the flexibility of charter schools, provided the districts adopt an innovation plan.
District officials will form a committee composed of community members and employees who will develop the innovation plan, which will include recommendations on where Keller schools could benefit from more flexibility.
Superintendent Randy Reid said areas where local control could prove beneficial are tweaks to the calendar and more flexibility in hiring educators.
Before the state legislature ruled that school districts could not begin classes before the fourth Monday in August, Keller schools would start the year around the second week in August and have a weeklong fall break in October. The earlier start also allowed schools to complete the first semester before winter break and end the year before June, along with having more instructional days before state testing.
Trustee Cindy Lotton said, “I’m so excited about this because I feel like we’re going to get back some of our local control.”
The board members’ vote on the resolution was five in favor, one opposed and one abstention. Brad Schofield voted against it while JoLynn Haussmann abstained.
Schofield said he was not against Keller becoming a District of Innovation but wanted the board to have more information on the process and to establish goals first.
Reid said that the innovation plan is supposed to come from the community and then be refined and approved by the board in what would likely be a lengthy process.
At the same March 8 meeting, trustees unanimously approved charter school status for the new Keller Center for Advanced Learning.
Having the career and technology center operate like a charter school will allow programs to start or end beyond the regular school calendar and hours, if needed. That status also lets officials hire the best instructors. Finding instructors with all the proper state teaching certifications in some of the specialized programs would be challenging, officials said.