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Presidio schools consider innovation exemption

March 16th, 2017 under Top Stories

By CAMERON DODD

cameron@bigbendnow.com

PRESIDIO — The Presidio Independent School District is considering a designation that could allow the district flexibility and local control over start dates, teacher certification and class size.

The Board of Trustees for the Presidio Independent School District (PISD) will hold a public hearing at its Wednesday, March 22 meeting to discuss with the community the possibility of becoming a “District of Innovation” (DOI).

In Presidio, the DOI designation would allow the district flexibility on setting the calendar for its academic year as well as with teaching certifications.

“It’s just more flexibility in terms of calendar and scheduling and classes and things,” PISD Superintendent Dennis McEntire told the Presidio International. “It gives us more local control.”

One of the main regulations the district would like exemption from is the August 28 uniform start date. McEntire would like to see the district start school earlier, he said.

“If we start on August 28, that puts us all the way into June for graduation date,” McEntire said. “That makes it almost impossible to do anything with summer school. That pushes us into July for summer school.”

The DOI classification would also allow the district more flexibility with teacher certifications. In remote Presidio where it can be challenging to recruit teachers, DOI exemptions can help put teachers with professional experience in classrooms without state-mandated certifications.

“Let’s say we have an engineer,” McEntire said. “They have a degree, everything they need, they’re actually even a certified teacher. They don’t have the engineering certification, but they have a lot of experience in the engineering field. It would allow us to put that certified teacher with that experience in the classroom as opposed to sending them back to school to get an engineering certification.”

“It’s about local control and the ability to control our schools and teach the way we think we need to,” McEntire said.

The DOI classification was created by the Texas Legislature in 2015 to allow districts exemptions from aspects of the Texas Education Code that “inhibit the goals of the district,” according to the Texas Education Agency. Districts are eligible if their accountability ratings meet state standards. The designation is only good for five years before it requires renewal. There are currently more than 100 DOIs in Texas, including Big Spring Independent School District and El Paso Independent School District.

The public hearing next week is one of the early steps in establishing PISD as a district of innovation. After the public hearing, the Presidio ISD board of trustees will need to decide whether or not to pursue the designation based on input from the public. If the board moves forward, it will appoint an innovation committee to draft an innovation plan.

The plan must then be posted for 30 days before a second public hearing. After that, the board of trustees must approve the plan with a two-thirds majority.

The next Presidio ISD board of trustees meeting is March 22 at the school district administration building. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the meeting will open with a public hearing on the District of Innovation designation.

 

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