Trustees Approve District of Innovation Plan

On Monday, February 27, the GCISD Board of Trustees approved the District of Innovation plan beginning in the 2017-2018 school year and concluding after the 2021-2022 school year. Passed as part of the 84th Texas Legislative Session, the designation as a District of Innovation gives school districts flexibility that is not currently available in public education.

“By becoming a District of Innovation, we are now able to further the vision and work of our strategic plan, LEAD 2021,” GCISD Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rick Westfall said. “I want to thank all of the committee members for their thoughtful work as we determined what exemptions and opportunities for further innovation were important to the students, staff, parents and community of GCISD.”

In April, Trustees approved the District of Innovation Resolution, which allowed the district to move forward in developing an innovation plan, as set forth in the Texas Education Code. Over the next several weeks, GCISD solicited participation for the District of Innovation committee, which was comprised by District Excellence Committee members as well as at-large representatives. In May, Trustees approved the Local Innovation Committee members, as well as granted the district approval to move forward in pursuing the designation. The committee met for three months during the fall semester where they developed an innovation plan to present before the Board after a mandatory 30-day public review.

The GCISD Innovation Plan focuses on three exemption areas:
  • Minimum Minutes of Instruction: By exempting from the requirement of 75,600 minutes of instruction for the school year and 420 minutes for a school day, GCISD has an opportunity to create a flexible schedule, which incorporates needed professional development and early release days for the purpose of teacher/parent/student conferences.  
  • First Day of Instruction: Under the current Texas Education Code, a district may not begin instruction for students prior to the fourth Monday in August. By allowing GCISD to begin school earlier in August, the district will be able to present a more balanced calendar that will assist our instructional model as well as continue the practice of placing semester exams prior to Winter Break. 
  • Teacher Certification and Field-Based Experience: This exemption will allow the district to recruit and hire individuals that possess crucial industry experience to teach Career and Technical Education and STEM courses, but may not hold a teaching certification. GCISD realizes the need to have professionals with industry and real world knowledge and experiences teaching these courses. Moving forward, the district will establish criteria needed to qualify for a local teaching certificate that may suffice for designated courses. In the instance where the district would like to hire an individual without a state teaching certification, GCISD Superintendent Dr. Robin Ryan will notify the Board of Trustees prior to offering employment. Additionally, the district may hire individuals fluent in other languages not currently taught in GCISD. 

To review agendas, minutes and other information from the Local Innovation Committee meetings, click here.