This article was originally published in the Progress Times issue dated Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.
The Mission Consolidated Independent School District is considering two delegations as a District of Innovation.
Lorena Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Student Services, presented an item to the board of trustees during this week’s regular meeting that the council approved a resolution for. The discussion was about why the district would decide to start the steps to becoming a District of Innovation in Texas.
According to the Texas Education Agency website, Districts of Innovation were created following the passing of House Bill 1842, which in part amended Chapter 12 of the Texas Education Code (TEC). Districts of Innovation “are eligible for designation if certain performance requirements are met and the district follows certain procedures for adoption as outlined in Statute.”
With this designation, the district will be exempt from certain sections of the TEC that “inhibit the goals of the district as outlined in the locally adopted Innovation Plan.” A district of innovation designation will not exceed five years.
TEA does not approve of the district’s innovation plan, but the organization will investigate if a district is not in compliance with the legal requirements.
“Currently there’s over 800 Districts of Innovation,” Garcia said. “That represents two out of every three school districts in the state of Texas that have already taken advantage of this legislation.”
MCISD would be seeking designations as a District of Innovation for flexibility with the school calendar and Career and Technical Education (CTE) certifications.
Superintendent Carol Perez spoke about the benefits of the current CTE programs in the district, and stated that hiring the right professionals with experience to teach the courses is paramount.
“The health professions have a very high-interest with our students,” Perez said. “But our hands are tied if we need to offer more classes for them. So we should not only look at student interest, but also job markets.”
Following the approval of the resolution, the board appointed the district’s Educational Improvement Council to develop a Local Innovation Plan for MCISD. The La Joya Independent School District and Sharyland Independent School District are both already Districts of Innovation.
During the board meeting, a report was also presented regarding an employee staffing review conducted recently by the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). The report included, based on enrollment, student demographics, proximity to cities and budget, that certain areas of the MCISD employment could potentially be reduced in order to amend the budget to the standards the district is aiming for in the next fiscal year.
The recommendations on reducing positions were met with some feedback from those in attendance. The board said to audience members (most of which were MCISD employees at that point in the meeting) that their jobs were safe.
The board accepted the recommendation for changes within the next three to five years.