This time last year, there was a lot of buzz about Frisco ISD’s potential District of Innovation status. Districts of Innovation were created by the 84th Legislature to allow districts to take more control of their policies. As a District of Innovation, Texas school districts are allowed the flexibility afforded to open-enrollment charter schools including exemptions in the list below:
- First and last day of school
- 90% class attendance rule
- Class size
- Teacher appraisal requirements
- Student discipline provisions
- Decision-making processes
- Teacher contracts
- Educator certification
- Teacher benefits, including state minimum salary schedule, duty free lunch and planning periods
As of this school year, Frisco ISD is officially able to reap the benefits as a District of Innovation along with numerous other districts. It all started with a resolution from the FISD board that triggered a series of events including a Local Innovation Plan Committee, public commentary, numerous meetings, and eventually a letter to the Commissioner of Education regarding FISD’s intent.
So, if you’re like many who only vaguely paid attention to the process, it’s important to know what this means for the district. FISD selected three items from the a la carte list above, and they’ve already been implemented for the 2017-2018 school year.
School started “early” this year!
As of 2006, Texas has required that all districts start on the fourth Monday in August. However, this year we started on the third Monday, August 21st, thanks to our District of Innovation statue. Prior to the statute requiring the fourth Monday start date, Frisco ISD had traditionally started on the second or third Monday of the month.
There is not one single Campus Behavior Coordinator at each campus.
Campuses can now decide what works best for them regarding who manages discipline during the school day. Senate Bill 107, from the 84th Legislature in 2015, required one person on each campus to be in charge of coordinating behavior issues on each campus. This led to gross inefficiencies on campuses across our district and didn’t promote relationship-building to support parents, staff, and students effectively.
Pre-K instruction minutes and programming stay the same.
As you know, students are now required a certain number of minutes of instruction rather than number of days due to 2015 HB 2610. In turn, FISD would have needed to add 23 minutes to Pre-K instruction each day to both the morning and afternoon session. However, this would have then impacted the duty-free lunch and planning period that teachers are required to receive. There simply was not enough time in the day to make this happen. In turn, FISD is able to continue to run the school program as is.
Frisco ISD can amend, rescind, or renew the plan at any time, but the original is only good for up to 5 years. FISD plans to review the status each year, but will not make changes without running them through the District Improvement Team and the Board of Trustees.