FISD to Consider Becoming a District of Innovation

Laura Nicolescu, Co-Editor-In-Chief

The Frisco Independent School District Board of Trustees is exploring the option of designating FISD as a District of Innovation.

Proposed by a group of FISD parents and staff members, the Local Innovation Plan would exempt FISD from state requirements, including the school start date, designation of campus behavior coordinator and minutes of instruction at the Pre-K level, allowing FISD to access many of the same options currently available to charter schools. In order to seek the designation, a school district must have an accountability rating of met standard.

There are currently 35 school districts in the state with this designation and many others are involved in the process.

With regard to the start of school, a Texas statute dictates that school cannot begin prior to the fourth Monday in August. The proposed innovation guideline states that school would not start before the second Monday, with preference given to the third Monday.

With regard to the campus behavior coordinator designation, the law states that this duty is to be assigned to one administrator. This plan, on the other hand, states that these duties can be delegated by the principal to more than one campus administrator, as was done before the law was enacted, but that all other provisions of this chapter of the Education Code will be in place, such as the timely notification to parents. 

With regard to minutes of instruction, this exemption applies only to FISD’s half-day, morning and afternoon Pre-Kindergarten program at the Early Childhood School. Pre-K students attend school for three hours, which, under the current statute, does not meet the required minimum minutes of instruction. The structure of this program is repeated across the state and the district is hopeful that this unintended consequence will be addressed in the upcoming legislative session so that districts will not have to face any negative funding implications.

The FISD School Board will host a public hearing on the proposed plan on Jan. 5 and will consider whether to notify the Commissioner of Education of its intent to vote on adoption of the proposed plan at the Jan. 9 school board meeting. A vote on the plan itself would then take place at the Feb. 13 meeting.

For more information on what the designation means, see the Slide Presentation, along with resources available at the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Association of School Boards.