Already known for its innovative approach, the Brock School Board voted in its recent meeting to take the first step to making the district a District of Innovation. The passing of the resolution is the first step, superintendent Scott Drillette said.
"A lot of schools have either done it or are in the process," Drillette said.
The District of Innovation concept, passed by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842 in 2015, gives traditional independent school districts most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools. Potential benefits of becoming a District of Innovation include increased local control, customization of innovation plans, autonomy since approval by the Commissioner of Education is not needed.
Some of the potential exemptions from state mandates are the school start date, 90-percent attendance rule, class-size ratios, site-based decision making processes, certain student discipline provisions, teacher certification requirements and others.
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"Basically, the board has to approve the resolution to become a District of Innovation, then have a public hearing and then decide whether to move forward or not," Drillette said.
The term for being a District of Innovation cannot exceed five years without reapplying.
The board also passed a resolution that will be sent to the state legislature to address the Small School Allotment Penalty, a funding penalty for small schools with less than 1,600 students and less than 300 square miles in their district.
"Like many small schools in our situation, we will forward that resolution to our legislatures for the upcoming legislative session," Drillette said.
"The penalty was designed 40 years ago as a means to encourage smaller school districts to consolidate with other small districts. Very few districts actually consolidated and almost none consolidate anymore. Since school districts are no longer consolidating, it doesn’t make sense anymore to penalize school districts financially because of geographic size."
In addition, the board took a look at long-term facility plans. Drillette said the planning phase for the new primary campus is starting and construction is expected to begin next summer.
"Right now, WRA Architects is in the preliminary stages of campus design," he said. "We anticipate building a facility with an initial student capacity of 450 students and a core capacity of 650 students."