District of Innovation Plan
Texas Education Code Chapter 12A permits Texas public school districts to become districts of innovation and to obtain exemptions from certain provisions of the Texas Education Code. In 2015, Conroe ISD became a district of innovation (DOI) and exempted itself from only one provision – Texas Education Code §25.081, which pertains to starting school on the fourth Monday in August. To maintain its designation as a DOI, a district must review and update its innovation plan every five years. It is now time to renew the Conroe ISD DOI designation.
A public hearing was held during the Board meeting on October 20, 2020. The Board of Trustees also approved a resolution to initiate the process of renewing the District’s designation as DOI and designated the District Level Planning and Decision-Making Committee, which includes teachers, administrators, parents, and community members, as the committee to develop the plan.
If approved, the term of the Local Innovation Plan will be five years beginning in January 2021. The plan be may be terminated or amended by the Board only in accordance with statute.
The DOI Committee met on Wednesday, October 21, 2020 and approved the following plan. In addition to continuing the exemption from §25.0811, which allows the District to begin the school prior to the fourth Monday in August, CISD would also like to include a waiver from requirements for teacher certification in its updated plan, specifically limited to hard-to-fill career education programs such as welding, automotive technology, and health sciences. Both provisions of the proposed plan are explained below.
Comment Period CLOSED:
The DOI Committee received comments via the web for 30 days beginning October 22. The DOI Committee will now review comments prior to making its final recommendation to the Board of Trustees in December.
Proposed Plan Highlights
“. . . a school district may not begin instruction for students for a year before the fourth Monday in August.”
Students may begin instruction earlier than the fourth Monday in August.
Starting school prior to the fourth Monday in August allow for a calendar that fits the needs of our community and benefits our students by allowing a more balanced number of days of instruction in the first and second semesters as well as the ability to conclude the semester prior to the winter break.
A person may not be employed as a teacher, teacher intern or teacher trainee, librarian, educational aide, administrator, educational diagnostician, or school counselor by a school district unless the person holds an appropriate certificate or permit issued as provided by Subchapter B.
Subchapter B establishes the certification requirements for Texas Educators.
A person may be employed as a teacher by a school district without an appropriate certificate or permit issued by Subchapter B of Texas Education Code Chapter 21, if the person, in the subject matter to be taught, has relevant work experience, formal training and/or education, and licensure, certification or registration.
The District would use this exemption to fill CTE positions, primarily in the following areas: automotive technology, criminal justice, engineering, Cisco networking, manufacturing, health sciences, and media courses. This benefits the students of the District by providing opportunities for the District to consider qualified industry professionals who may have industry training and certification but may not hold teacher certification.
High school students are able to earn “endorsements” in specific units of study, including business and industry. Many students seek to earn endorsements in areas such as manufacturing, technology, and health services. Finding certified teachers for some Career and Technical Education (CTE) positions can be very difficult. An exemption from this §21.003 will allow the District to hire qualified candidates who may not be certified teachers, but who bring authentic field and industry knowledge and skills to the classroom. Such professionals can provide students with not only unparalleled learning experiences, but also real world work experiences, as they typically hold multiple certifications in their area of expertise.
To ensure that this exception would only be used to obtain the most qualified candidate, the District will implement administrative procedures that require:
- Establishing “local credential guidelines” that will require in the subject matter to be taught, requisite work experience, formal training and education, and industry licensure, certification, and/or registration.
- Teachers employed under this certification program will receive pedagogy and classroom management training.
- Prior to an offer of employment, the Superintendent will review and approve all candidates that fall under this exception.
- The Superintendent will periodically update the Board on the number of candidates hired under this provision along with the courses they teach.
Note: Local Board Policies DBA Employment Requirements and Restrictions – Credentials and Records and DK Assignment and Schedules must be revised, if the innovation plan includes an exception to TEC §21.003.