Tomball ISD renewed its District of Innovation plan during a Dec. 14 board of trustees meeting and added new career and technical education pathways. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
Districts of innovation are exempt from certain sections of the Texas Education Code in order to pursue goals outlined in the district’s innovation plan, according to the Texas Education Agency website. Districts must renew their plans every five years, said Mark White, TISD assistant superintendent of accountability, during the board’s workshop meeting Dec. 13.
“We do leverage these particular innovations to support our strategic plan and tie in those provisions that the state grants us to our benefit,” White said.
Changes to the district’s plan include allowing TISD classes to begin as early as the second Monday in August and removing a provision allowing the district to adjust daily instructional time due to a change in rules making it unnecessary for the district to keep it, White presented.
The plan will keep provisions allowing the district to exceed class size limits in kindergarten through fourth grade without having to submit a waiver to the TEA and allowing TISD to hire qualified teachers who may not have Texas teaching credentials.
“What we want to be able to do is leverage the professional class of people and work with our industry partners to find people who are certified in [TISD’s career and technical education pathways] but may not have a traditional Texas [education] certification,” White said.
In addition to these provisions, the district added new exemptions to its plan, White said. One provision will allow all TISD administrators who are trained in the district’s discipline plan to administer disciplinary action, which replaces having just one behavior coordinator per campus. The district will also be allowed to limit parental requests for retention for students in kindergarten through third grade.
The new DOI plan will go into effect in August 2022, White said.
The district also presented new CTE pathways it will offer to students for the 2022-23 school year. Aviation, cybersecurity, law enforcement and legal studies will all be added to the district’s offerings, Chief of Staff Amy Schindewolf said Dec. 13.
Schindewolf said any student in grades nine through 12 will be able to take courses related to the new pathways during the first year they’re being taught.
“These courses came out of a culmination of information and fact gathering … to look at our Innovation Center and what specifically we wanted to put there first,” Schindewolf said. “We took that feedback, adapted what we had and were able to come up with those programs.”