ABOUT THE “DISTRICT OF INNOVATION” DESIGNATION
Waco ISD was one of the first school districts in Central Texas to take advantage of a new state law and become a designated “District of Innovation,” gaining more local control over the educational process in our community.
In March 2017, the Waco ISD Board of Trustees adopted the district's first District of Innovation Plan. The plan must be reviewed and renewed every five years, and in May 2022, the school board renewed it.
The Texas Legislature during the 84th Legislative Session passed House Bill (HB) 1842, which provides the opportunity for Texas public schools to be designated as Districts of Innovation.
Districts of Innovation may be exempted from a number of state statutes and will allow a local school district to consider pursuing specific innovations in curriculum, instruction, governance, parent or community involvement, school calendar, budgeting, or other local district concepts and ideas. HB 1842 allows for a local public school district to develop a plan which may have greater local control and the ability to gain exemption from many Texas Education Code requirements.
The Districts of Innovation legislation provides for a local public school district to develop a plan which includes exemptions from many of the state laws that are not applicable to open enrollment school districts (charter schools). Laws that may be exempted include:
- Site-based decision making processes (to the extent required by state law)
- Uniform school start date
- Minimum minutes of instruction
- Class size ratio
- The 90 percent attendance rule (compulsory attendance still applies)
- Student discipline (code of conduct and restrictions on restraint and seclusion still apply)
- Teacher certification (federal law still applies)
- Teacher contracts
- Teacher benefits, including state minimum salary schedule, duty-free lunch, and planning periods
- Teacher appraisal system