District of Innovation Plan (HB 1842)

Slocum ISD

District of Innovation Plan (HB 1842)


HB 1842, of the 84th Texas Legislature, allows a traditional public school to have some of the same local flexibility that public charter schools have always been allowed. Slocum ISD is utilizing HB 1842 to obtain more flexibility and establish greater local control in an effort to better meet the needs of Slocum ISD students.

This plan will be in effect retroactively for the 2016-2017 school year through the 2020-2021 school year. This plan may be amended at any time by the committee with approval of the Board of Trustees.

District Innovation Team

1. Cliff Lasiter, Superintendent

2. Errin Deer, High School Principal

3. Mark Leuschner, PK-8 Principal

4. Sabrina McLeod, Primary Teacher

8. Melissa Herring, Elementary Teacher

9. Loretta Tolar, Junior High Teacher

10. Regina Hogan, High School Teacher

11. Mandy Wilson, Special Education Teacher

12. Alanna Beasley, Teacher at Large

13. Kelli Fletcher, Parent

14. Rita Hilliard, Community Member

15. Kay Watkins, Community Member

16. Bill Rawson, Local Business Owner

17. Joel Parker, Technology Director

District of Innovation Timeline

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 – 3:30 PM, Conference Room

· The District Site-Based Decision Making Committee meets to consider a petition for Slocum ISD to become a District of Innovation.

Thursday, December 15, 2016 – 7:00 PM, Conference Room

· The Slocum ISD Board of Trustees conduct a public hearing to explain and discuss the possibility of becoming a District of Innovation.

· The Slocum ISD Board of Trustees approve a motion to pursue a local District of Innovation Plan and to approve members of the District of Innovation Committee to develop that plan.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 – 1:00 PM, Conference Room

· The District of Innovation Committee will meet to develop the District of Innovation Plan

· The District Site-Based Decision Making Committee meets and passes the plan by a majority vote and sends it to the Commissioner of Education

· Post the District of Innovation Plan on the District website for 30 days.

February 16, 2017 – 7:00 PM, Conference Room

· Board approval of the District of Innovation Plan by a 2/3 majority vote at the regular meeting of the Slocum ISD Board of Trustees.

1. School start date (EB LEGAL) (Ed. Code 25.0811)


Students may not begin school before the 4th Monday of August.


To allow for a calendar that fits the local needs of our students and community, we would like to consider mandating a start date of no earlier than August 10 each year which will:

· provide flexibility in developing calendars each year

· provide more days of instruction before state assessments

· allow the district to comfortably finish the first semester before the Christmas Holidays and help keep the days in the semesters balanced

· afford teachers the opportunity to receive meaningful professional development during the school year instead of frontloading all of the staff development days prior to the beginning of school

2. Length of School Day (EC LEGAL) (Ed Code 25.082)


State law currently requires that all school days must be 420 minutes long each day in order to count for ADA calculations and funding purposes, and to accumulate instructional minutes towards the 75,600 minutes required annually.


Exempting from the 420-minute day requirement would allow Slocum ISD the flexibility needed to alter the school day schedule whenever it was locally determined as necessary or beneficial to the district and its stakeholders. Exempting completely from the 420-minute requirement would give the district a significant amount of local control over scheduling without the fear of diminishing state funding or losing credit for instructional time that might cause the district to fall out of compliance with annual minute requirements.

3. Submitting waivers for Kindergarten – Grade 4 class size (EEB LEGAL) (Ed. Code 25.111) (Ed. Code 25.112) (Ed. Code 25.113)


Kindergarten – 4th Grade classes are to be kept at a 22 student to 1 teacher ratio according to state law. When a class exceeds this limit, the district must complete a waiver with the Texas Education Agency. These waivers are never rejected by TEA. This is a bureaucratic step that serves no purpose.

Along with the waiver, it is required that a letter is sent home to each parent in the section that exceeds the 22:1 ratio, informing them the waiver has been submitted. Many times soon after the waiver is submitted, students move out of the district and we are below the 22:1 ratio.


While we certainly believe that small class size plays a positive role in the classroom, we do not believe it has a negative effect when you only add one or two more students. Many times it is not the number of the students but the makeup and chemistry of the classroom which influence the learning environment.

· Slocum ISD will attempt to keep all K-4th core classrooms to a 22:1 ratio. However, in the event the class size exceeds this ratio, the superintendent will report to the Board of Trustees.

· In the event a K-4th core classroom reaches 25:1, the campus will notify the parents of the students in the classroom and inform them of the situation.

· A TEA waiver will not be necessary when a K-4th classroom exceeds the 22:1 ratio which will give Slocum ISD flexibility without having the bureaucracy of waivers.

4. Teacher and Principal Evaluation (DNA LEGAL, DNA LOCAL) (Ed. Code 21.352) (Ed. Code 21.3541)


The State of Texas has a new teacher appraisal system in 2016-2017, the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS). Districts currently have the authority to only formally appraise teachers once every five school years. Slocum ISD teachers are formally evaluated annually or bi-annually.

Principals are evaluated annually using the Texas Principal Evaluation & Support System (T-PESS).


Slocum ISD will utilize locally developed teacher and principal evaluation tools.

· The teacher evaluation instrument will be developed with input from central administration, campus administration, and teachers.

· All teachers must be formally evaluated at a minimum of every third school year.

· Every teacher will receive a minimum of four informal walk-throughs per year.

· Principals will be evaluated annually.

5. Teacher Certification (DK LEGAL, DK LOCAL, DK EXHIBIT) (Ed. Code 21.003) (Ed. Code 21.053) (Ed. Code 21.057)


In the event a district cannot locate a certified teacher for a position or a teacher is teaching a subject outside of their certification, the district must submit a request to the Texas Education Agency. TEA then approves or denies this request. There is a lot of bureaucracy and unnecessary paperwork involved in the process.


In order to best serve Slocum ISD students, decisions on certification will be handled locally.

· The campus principal may submit to the superintendent a request to allow a certified teacher to teach outside of their certified field. The principal must specify in writing the reason for the request and document what credentials the certified teacher possesses which qualify them to teach this subject.

· An individual with experience in a CTE, Fine Art, or Technology Applications field could be eligible to teach through a local teaching certificate. The principal must submit a request to the superintendent with the individual’s credentials. The superintendent will approve the request if the individual will be an asset to students. The superintendent will report this action to the Board of Trustees. Local teaching certificates will be for one year. The teacher will be at-will.

6. Probationary Contracts (DCA LEGAL) (Ed. Code 21.102 (b))


A probationary contract may not exceed one year for a person who has been employed as a teacher in public education for at least five of the eight years preceding employment with the district.


For experienced teachers, counselors, librarians, or nurses new to Slocum ISD that have been employed in public education for at least five of the eight previous years, the probationary period will be two years.

· This will provide sufficient time to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers as well as provide time for development and growth.