Frequently Asked Questions about DOI
Below are some details about our District of Innovation approach and the intent of the District in pursuing some of the exemptions.
Our District of Innovation committee has 43 members:
- 17 teachers
- 13 parents, students and community members
- 7 campus administrators
- 6 district coordinators (athletics, fine arts, community engagement, etc.)
- The Superintendent’s Executive Leadership Team members will be Advisors to the Committee.
The Committee will create the District of Innovation Plan (“the Plan”). The Committee can propose any item for exemption that is allowable. Once the plan is approved by the Committee and the Board, it is in effect for 5 years. During the five years, the plan can be amended or revoked. Any and all plan changes have to be approved by district-level committee. HEB ISD is currently working with Texas Association of School Boards to develop a local policy to address this issue.
TEA has identified eligible sections of code as those that apply to public schools and do not apply to charter or private schools. TEA has also published a specific list of prohibited sections of code that public schools cannot exempt from in the Plan. When we evaluated if we wanted to become a District of Innovation, our leadership identified the following opportunities for the Committee to evaluate. The committee will decide what items are in the final plan.
This code requires all public schools to begin instruction on the fourth Monday in August. We are currently challenged with completing our required 75,600 minutes between the fourth Monday in August and our May High School Graduation date each year. Our High School graduations are held at the Fort Worth Convention Center which is the only venue large enough to accommodate our graduating classes without limiting attendance. We want students to celebrate their milestone achievement with all their family and friends without limiting who students can invite.
- Will this change the first day of school? Yes. The Calendar Committee will be a part of the District of Innovation Committee and will propose several calendar versions for review and approval.
- Will this change graduation dates? No. We have a multi-year contract with the Fort Worth Convention Center to hold graduation on the fourth Saturday in May.
This code says the district may not enroll more than 22 students in K-4 grade levels without an approved waiver and notice is to be provided to parents or guardians. During the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 biennium, the state cut $5.4 billion in public school funding. Subsequently, HEB ISD was cut $12 million over those two years. Because the district is 88% payroll, the majority of the cuts had to come from payroll reductions. While HEB ISD had to make some cuts, the philosophy was to keep them as far away from the individual classroom as possible. During the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 biennium, the state partially restored public school funding. This put the district back at its 2010 funding level. At that time the district had to make a decision to either restore positions to meet the K-4, 22:1 state mandate as well as other positions (teaching and non-teaching) lost during the state budget cuts or provide pay raises in both years of the biennium. Input was solicited, and the response was unanimous, everyone wanted a raise. Once again, the impact on class size waivers was discussed. We were able to provide a 2% raised in 2013-2014 and a 3% raise in 2014-2015. If we were to shift back to a K-4, 22:1 class size threshold, the $2.5 million expense would require an offsetting expenditure reduction. Payroll is a recurring cost and not a one-time expense. As a result, the expense reduction elsewhere in the budget would also have to be a recurring expense. Additionally, the district would have to find classroom space for approximately 40 additional teachers.
The district standard is to maintain kindergarten at 23 students to 1 teacher and 24 students to 1 teacher in grades 1-4. We expect our exemption to be specific and maintain these thresholds and not create an ability to increase class sizes without a plan amendment which would require District of Innovation Committee and Board approval. The only change to current practice is the district would not have to complete the waiver provision paperwork and send parent letters.
- Will this exemption allow class sizes to be increased to any level? No. District leadership is recommending to the Committee that the Plan be specific to only allow class sizes at the current 23:1 and 24:1 thresholds.
This code requires all teachers new to the district that have been in public education 5 of the last 8 years to have a probationary contract term no longer than one year. We recognize that teachers new to HEB ISD need an opportunity to learn our system. With the HEB Curriculum, HEB Teaching and Learning system, and Continuous Improvement processes, teachers new to our system need an opportunity to learn these processes and be given a reasonable amount of time to integrate into our system. We are currently challenged with evaluating teachers new to the district with only about 6 months of opportunity to learn our system before we have to make contract recommendations. The district will recommend to the committee that teachers who have been in education 5 of the last 8 years, but are new to HEB ISD be on a one-year probationary contract with a district option to recommend a second probationary year to be approved by the Board of Trustees. *
- *This item has been updated from previous district communications due to further evaluation.
- Will this change existing term contracts? No.
- Will this affect teacher conference period or duty-free lunch? No.
- Will this affect any other aspect of Ch. 21 contracts other than probationary terms? No.
- Will term contract teachers that go on leave come back to probationary contracts? No. Our policy is teachers on leave for no more than two years return to the same contract term provided prior to leave. The district is not recommending any changes to policy.
- Will this be retroactively applied to any teachers? No. No current term contract will be impacted and this will apply only to teachers hired starting in 2017-2018 if this item is in the final plan.
This code requires that a person may not be employed as a teacher by a district unless the person holds an appropriate certification or permit issued by the appropriate state agency. District leadership is recommending a very specific exemption applying only to CTE core classes. CTE core classes are defined by TEA and can be accessed here: CTE Core Academic Classes. This exemption would expand the District’s ability to hire teachers for potentially hard-to-fill, career and technical/STEM (applied Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) courses. In order to enable more students to obtain the educational benefit of such course offerings, the District seeks to establish its own local qualification requirements and its own requirements for training of professionals and experts to teach such courses in lieu of the requirements set forth in law.
- Will this affect all teacher certification requirements? No. This exemption is very specific to only CTE Core class teachers.
This code requires one individual be named on each campus as the Campus Behavior Coordinator – while TEA language refers to this role as the Behavior Coordinator, this role is known in HEB as the Discipline Coordinator and is generally fulfilled by our Assistant Principals (our District Behavior Coordinators are a separate role and not subject to this portion of the code). The code language is singular meaning each campus has only one Discipline Coordinator. This is not practical for our campuses, particularly our high schools, who must designate multiple Assistant Principals to serve in this role for our large student population.
- Will this change the role of the District Behavior Coordinator? No.
- Will this change the role of the Assistant Principals as Discipline Coordinators? No.
This code requires school district to bid depository banking services at least every 6 years. Currently, there are a limited number of banking institutions with an interest in serving the district’s financial needs. In addition, changing banks requires a burdensome administrative effort. The district monitors the availability of services and the pricing. Newer banking regulations are making local-government-entity business unattractive to banks, so the options are expected to remain limited in the near future.
- Will this change how I receive my paycheck? No.
This code requires districts to purchase certain types of light bulbs for any instructional facility (property used predominately for teaching curriculum). We always consider energy efficiency in the purchases of all bulbs, but removal of this mandate provides additional flexibility in operations, particularly for older facilities where the mandate would require full replacement of entire light fixtures or systems. We prefer to undertake the financial expense of upgrading light fixture during a scheduled facility renovation.
- Will this change the district’s lighting policies? No.