INNOVATION PLAN FOR GRANBURY ISD
House Bill (HB) 1842, passed during the 84th Legislative Session, permits Texas public school districts to become Districts of Innovation and to obtain exemption from certain provisions of the Texas Education Code. On August 22, 2016, the Granbury Independent School District’s Board of Trustees (“Board”) passed a Resolution to Adopt a District of Innovation Plan to increase local control over District operations and to support innovation and local initiatives. The adoption of this plan seeks to increase the District’s flexibility in order to improve educational outcomes for the benefit of students and the community.
On September 19, 2016, the Board appointed a District of Innovation District Advisory Committee (“Committee”) comprised of diverse leaders representing a cross-section of the District’s stakeholders including teachers, principals, parents, community members, and administrators. The Committee met on September 26, 2016, October 24, 2016, and November 7, 2016, to discuss and draft the Local Innovation Plan (“Plan”).
The term of the Plan is for five years, beginning February 1, 2017, and ending January 31, 2022, unless terminated or amended earlier by the Board of Trustees in accordance with the law. If, within the term of this Plan, other areas of operations are to be considered for flexibility as part of HB 1842, the Board will nominate a new committee to consider and propose additional exemptions in the form of an amendment. Any amendment adopted by the Board will adhere to the same term as the original plan. The District may not implement two separate plans at any one time.
The District proposes flexibility in the following areas:
- Certification Required (TEC 21.003; 21.053; 21.044; 21.055)
The current certification requirements inhibit the District’s ability to hire personnel with professional and/or industry experience to teach academic courses that have limited certified applicants, Career Technical Education (CTE) course, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics (STEAM) courses. In order to provide more students the opportunity to take such courses and obtain professional certifications, the District seeks to establish its own local qualification requirements for such courses in lieu of the requirements set forth in law.
- Uniform School Calendar (TEC 25.0811) (TEC 25.0812)
The current calendar requires our second semester to be 20-25 days longer than our first semester, which negatively affects one semester courses; in addition, some of our low socio-economic students are not able to escape the harsh heat of August, as school does not start until the fourth Monday in August. By adjusting the calendar, Granbury ISD will eliminate the imbalanced six-week and semester schedules. GISD will align our calendars with Weatherford College, Advanced Placement Exams, and STAAR/EOC timelines. Ensure hour/seat time requirements are met for certification courses, and create a flexible calendar to use our district created Flex days for our identified populations.
- Class Size Waivers and Notice to Parents (TEC 25.112; 25.113)
Currently, Granbury ISD is required to notify TEA when K-4 classes exceed 22 to 1 ratio. In addition, GISD is required to notify parents using a TEA developed form letter that the class has exceeded the state limits. Little current research supports class size as being the definitive answer to student success in the classroom. Research states that the teacher has the greatest impact upon student learning. Granbury ISD will develop assurances for K-4 classrooms, in collaboration with campus principals and teachers, to determine at what point it will be most beneficial to hire new staff members when classes exceed the 22 to 1 ratio. In addition, GISD will develop our own letter to notify parents when classes exceed the locally determined maximum number of students.
- Student Discipline Campus Behavior Coordinator (TEC 37.0012)
Granbury ISD believes that school discipline is best administered and managed within a team concept and should not be limited to one school administrator being responsible for contacting and the documentation requirements to parents. Granbury will use all school administrators to effectively manage student behavior and consistently monitor school discipline and parental contact.
- Teacher/Principal Evaluations (TEC 21.352, 21.3541), (TEC 21.203, 21.352)
Granbury ISD is currently implementing the T-TESS and T-PESS evaluation instruments produced by TEA. While we believe that many components of these assessment tools are beneficial; however, we also believe that a portfolio allows for teachers and principals to set and monitor goals, provides for self-reflection to determine their growth towards achieving each goal, and allows the supervisor a better opportunity to assess the entire school year’s performance of each employee. Using a district created evaluation instrument allows Granbury ISD to focus upon our district initiatives and to monitor the progress of each employee to achieving these campus, district, and individual goals.
- Probationary contracts (TEC 21.102)
Granbury ISD currently extends probationary contracts of three years to all new to the profession teachers and utilizes a one year probation period for teachers who have been employed as a Texas public teacher in 5 of the last 8 years. Granbury ISD would like to extend our probation period for all new to the district teachers, regardless of their previous teaching experience. By extending the probation period, our administrators will have more opportunity to grow and provide feedback to our employees; thereby allowing for greater growth by our teachers, which in turn will lead to better academic success for our students.
- Certified employee contract rights (suspension without pay) (TEC 21.211)
This exemption will allow the district to make employment and financial decisions that are in the best interest of the district when an employee is alleged to have violated serious provisions of the Educator Code of Ethics or law, including crimes against children. This flexibility from some of the provisions of Chapter 21 of the Education Code will allow the District to approach some employment issues in ways that best meet the needs of the district and take quick action to protect students when necessary. It will allow Granbury ISD the flexibility to suspend, without pay, when an employee is under allegation which is covered in the Educator Code of Conduct. Any decisions made regarding suspension without pay would be open to appeal through the grievance process.
- Retire/Rehire minimum salary (TEC 21.002, 21.402, 21.415)
Currently, all districts, when hiring a retired educator must pay them their salary based upon the TEA minimum salary pay scale; in addition, the districts are required to pay a TRS surcharge. Granbury ISD would like the opportunity to hire an eligible retired educator and pay them below the TEA minimum pay scale while also paying the required TRS surcharge. We believe that by hiring an eligible retired educator our students, campuses, and district will reap the rewards of having a veteran educator who is still involved and passionate in the education process. In addition, the district will be able to have an experienced educator at a significantly less cost than had we paid them based upon the TEA minimum pay scale plus the TRS surcharge. Thus, by hiring an eligible retired educator Granbury ISD will be adding value in the schools and will be making sound fiscal decisions for our district’s stakeholders.
This Innovation Plan is designed to create parameters within which the District will operate, in order to provide additional student opportunities. Specific implementation plans will be developed by the appropriate campuses and departments. Adjustments to Board Policy will be researched and adopted where appropriate.