District Innovation Plan

District of Innovation

The 84th Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1842 which gives traditional independent school districts most of the flexibilities available to the state's open enrollment charter schools. HB 1842 provides Winters ISD an opportunity to modify state requirements at the local level to better meet the needs of our student population and implement innovative strategies in order to prepare them for success and life-long learning. Our district must have an academic performance rating of at least Academically Acceptable and adopt an innovation plan.

Winters ISD took the first step in exploring this opportunity when the WISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution initiating the process in January, 2017. The Board then held a public hearing to consider whether the district should develop an innovation plan, at which time the Board decided to move forward in the process. A committee was appointed to develop an innovation plan. The committee created a district of innovation plan. The plan then will be posted on-line for at least 30 days.

The District Improvement Committee will have a public meeting to approve it before it can go back to the Board.

Goals of Winters ISD in our District of Innovation Plan
Goal 1:

Winters ISD Board of Trustees and administration will make teacher certification and contract decisions based on district qualifications that meet the needs of our district's students and community and offer the widest range of courses and innovative course options possible.

Goal 2:
Winters ISD Board of Trustees and administration will make governance decisions based on the unique needs of the district's students and community.

The term for this plan is for five years unless amended or terminated earlier by the Board of Trustees in accordance with Texas Law. In the event Winters ISD feels other exemptions would benefit the district, community, and/or students, the Board of Trustees will follow procedures to amend the plan.

District of Innovation Team

Bruce Davis, WISD Superintendent Sammy Tullous, WHS Principal
Kari Calcote, WES Principal Mandie England, WHS Counselor
Edward Garcia, WES Counselor Jolie Hatter, WES Teacher
Monte Angel, WHS Teacher Charles Kidwell, WISD Board Member
Danny Martinez, WISD Board Member Lacy Dugan, WES parent
Christy Oats, WHS Parent Christy Lindley, WHS Parent
Melissa Gerhart, WHS Teacher

District of Innovation Timeline
December 12, 2016
Informational item at Winters Independent School Board meeting
January 16, 2017
Board of Trustees approve resolution to hold a public hearing to discuss the possibility of becoming a District of Innovation

February 13, 2017

Public hearing to explain and discuss possibility of becoming District of Innovation and appoint a committee,
February 27, 2017
Initial meeting of the District of Innovation Committee. Begin planning
March 8, 2017
Review of plan by the District of Innovation Committee with the District Improvement Team and possible approval by the District Improvement Team
March 9, 2017
Innovation plan posted on the district website for 30 days (TEC 12A.005(a)(1))
Commissioner notified of Board's intent to vote on District of Innovation.
April 10, 2017
Public Meeting and District Improvement Team
April 10, 2017

Public Hearing to hear input into the District of Innovation Plan Winters ISD Board Meeting to consider approval of the plan

Winters ISD in conjunction with the District of Innovation Committee proposes the following flexibilities with the Texas Education Code to provide the best educational opportunities for students at Winters ISD.

Uniform Start Date (TEC 25.0811, TEC 25.0812) EB (LEGAL), State law currently prohibits school districts from starting class before the fourth Monday in August, unless they are year-round districts.

Rationale for Exemption
The flexibility of the start date allows the district to determine locally, on an annual basis, what best meets the needs of the students, the school, and the community. In addition, this flexibility allows the district to better align its starting date to with colleges the district partners with to offer tradition, unique, and innovative dual credit courses. Another benefit of exempting this restriction is it allows the school to look at starting classes as a short week which can ease the transition for students entering kindergarten, middle school, and high school. Additionally, the ability to change the school start date can also help to better balance the number of days in each semester.

Length of School Day (TEC 25.081) EB (LEGAL)State law currently requires that all school days must be at least 420 minutes long in order to count for ADA calculations and funding purposes, and to accumulate instructional
minutes towards the 75,600 minutes required annually.

Rationale for Exemption
Exemption from the 420-minute day requirement would allow Winters ISD the flexibility needed
to alter the school day schedule on selected days whenever it was locally determined as necessary or beneficial to the district and its stakeholders. While there is a waiver process available to request exemption from this requirement, the waiver is limited to a 6‐day
maximum number for the school year.

Exempting completely from the 420‐minute requirement would give the district a significant amount of local control over scheduling (above and beyond the 6‐day maximum as needed) 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. This would allow the district the flexibility to schedule non‐instructional days into the schedule to
allow for teachers to analyze student data and engage in targeted, relevant professional development. This kind of flexibility will promote innovation in instructional strategies, scheduling, and professional development that the district believes will yield higher scores and a better all-around balanced education for our students.

Winters ISD does not have any intentions to shorten the school day on a regular basis, or without specific purpose. To the greatest extent possible, " early release" or " late start" days would be planned ahead of time and noted in the district calendar, which is approved by the Board of Trustees and published and distributed to stakeholders in advance of the school year.

Teacher Certification (TEC 21.003, 21.053, and 21.057) DK (LEGAL)State law states that a person may not be employed as a teacher by a school district unless the person holds an appropriate certificate or permit issued by the appropriate state agency or business or industry group. 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 request emergency certification from Texas Education Agency and/or State Board of Educator Certification.

Rationale for Exemption
Current state teacher certification requirements inhibit the District's ability to hire teachers to teach hard-to-fill, high-demand, dual credit, as well as career and technical courses. Winters ISD is located in a rural area which limits course offerings. The District seeks to establish its own local qualification requirements and its own requirements for training professionals and experts to teach such courses in lieu of the requirements set forth in law. This flexibility will allow the district to offer a wider variety of courses and provide more innovation in instruction and coursework for Winters ISD students.

In order to best serve Winters ISD students, decisions on certifications will be handled locally. The Principal may submit to the Superintendent a request to allow a certified teacher to teach a subject(s) out of his/her certification field. The Principal will be required to provide valid reasoning for the request and document what credentials the certified teacher possesses which qualify this individual to teach this subject.

An individual with experience in a CTE field could be eligible to teach a vocational skill or course through a local teaching certificate. The Principal may submit to the Superintendent a request including all the individual's credentials. The Superintendent will approve or deny the request and report the action to the Board of Trustees prior to the individual beginning employment. The local certificate will require an employee agreement rather than a

In the case the District is not able to a hire an appropriately certified teacher, the Principal may submit a request to the Superintendent to hire a non-certified teacher. The Principal and Superintendent will establish a plan of action which includes an appropriate number of professional development hours and a focused mentorship to help the teacher become certified in a reasonable time period. The Superintendent will present the plan to the Board of Trustees prior to the employment of the individual. Special Education and ESL/ELL certifications cannot be waived.

Probationary Contracts (TEC 21.102) DCA (Legal)
The Texas Education Code provides a three-year probationary period for teachers new to the profession and only a one-year probationary period for teachers who have been in public education for at least five of the previous eight years.

Rationale for Exemption
This limited time period is insufficient in some cases to fully determine the teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. An exemption from Texas Education Code 21.102 will permit WISD the option to issue a probationary contract for a period of up to three years for experienced teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses, or other certified employees who are experienced but newly hired in WISD. Having this extra time will give the district the time to invest in these more experienced teachers in order to provide more targeted mentoring, professional development, and remedial assistance with performance issues that might be corrected if given the time. Instead of busy principals having to make a decision on an experienced teacher by the middle of their first year and often deciding they have to let that teacher move on, this exemption will provide the time for those principals to use innovative strategies to coach and mentor those same teachers and take extra time to evaluate their effectiveness beyond the first year to determine if they will be a good fit for the district's students.


The depository for the District shall serve for a term of two years and until its successor is selected and has qualified. A district and its depository bank may agree to extend the contract for two additional two-year terms. The contract term and any extension must coincide with the district's fiscal year. An extension is not subject to the requirements of Education Code 45.206, Education Code 45.205 and Education Code 45.204.

Rationale for Exemption

In a small district and a small town, the District's choices for its depository bank are limited. WISD uses services provided by the bank on a daily basis. WISD will continue to use the local depository for the District without rebidding as follows:

At the end of each two year term, the District and its depository bank may agree to extend the contract for multiple two additional year periods. The District must review the contract to ensure the best value and support for the District and obtain Board approval for each of the two year periods. Nothing in this process would hinders the District's ability to undertake bidding the District Depository Bank at the end of any of the two year periods. Further, this entire Innovation Plan must be reviewed and renewed at the end of five years, including this provision. The time saved by the superintendent and the board of trustees by not having to deal with this ministerial duty every two years will allow the superintendent and the board more time for studying and planning for student progress, instructional strategies, and innovative options for the district educational goals.