MARSHALL, Texas – Marshall ISD began the process of working toward becoming a “District of Innovation” during Tuesday’s January meeting of the MISD Board of Trustees, with the school board approving a resolution to authorize the district to move forward in seeking the designation.
The “District of Innovation” concept was passed into law by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 though House Bill 1842. The designation allows school districts to access many of the same options that are currently available to charter schools. In order to seek a “District of Innovation” designation, school districts must have an accountability rating of “Met Standard,” which MISD met in the most recent state accountability ratings in 2016.
According to the resolution approved and signed by MISD trustees on Tuesday, the district will now hold a public hearing to consider the development of a local innovation plan. After the public hearing, the school board will appoint a committee to develop the plan.
Potential benefits of becoming a District of Innovation include:
- Increased local control: Districts decide which flexibilities best suit their local needs.
- Customization: Districts can create an innovation plan for a level of school (high school, junior high school, etc.), grade level, or a single campus.
- Autonomy: Districts must submit a District of Innovation plan to the Commissioner of Education, but approval is not required.
- Flexibility: Districts will have the flexibility to implement practices similar to charter schools, including exemptions from mandates such as school start date, 90 percent attendance rule, class-size ratios, site-based decision-making processes, certain student discipline provisions, use of planning and preparation periods, and teacher appraisal requirements.
Should the MISD Board of Trustees ultimately approve going forward with becoming a District of Innovation upon recommendation from the appointed committee, the plan will then be posted online for 30 days. The Board will then notify the commissioner of an intention to vote on the proposed plan, and the advisory committee must then pass the plan by a majority vote.
Upon completion of these steps, the school board must then approve the final plan by a 2/3 majority.
The approved, final plan will be in effect for five years before the district must re-apply and go through the process again in order to renew its designation.
MISD is in the design stages of a new five-year Strategic Plan initiative that could potentially coincide with a five-year designation as a District of Innovation.