In an effort to personalize Fort Bend ISD’s approach to student learning, the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to pursue a District of Innovation Designation following a public hearing on Nov. 14.
Following Monday’s action and in accordance with rules established by the Texas Education Agency, a Local Innovation Committee will be established to explore creative and innovative ways the district can better meet student needs. Prior to the board’s action, both FBISD administrators and trustees stressed that the committee, made up of various stakeholders, will drive the creation of a Local Innovation Plan.
“We are excited about the possibilities that may exist through the District of Innovation distinction, giving us more local control and freeing us from some of the restrictions that currently keep our hands tied in meeting the needs of our students,” said Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees President Kristin Tassin. “The committee, comprised of staff, students, parents and community members, will drive the process… with opportunities for public input along the way. The beauty of the process is that the committee creates the plan, giving the community and teachers an opportunity to weigh in.”
Established by the 84th Texas Legislature, the DOI concept provides local communities the opportunity to decide how they can best deliver their district’s goals – moving away from mandated compliance to innovative possibilities. While many Texas plans have included exemptions from the mandatory school start date, the length of the school day and class-size ratios, Fort Bend ISD administrators and trustees told public hearing attendees that the outcomes of the process have not been predetermined and that the district is committed to transparency and collaboration in the process. The comments followed brief remarks made by teacher representatives and a community member, who expressed concerns about how the Local Innovation Plan could impact teachers’ contracts and work hours, and a lack of information.
Moving forward, the committee will be guided by a third-party facilitator and legal counsel.
“We are committed to being thorough and transparent as the plan is developed, with continuous communication along the way,” said Dr. Charles Dupre, FBISD Superintendent.
“We are here because we want to build and empower our staff. It is not our intent to remove jobs or take anything from anyone – we want to provide greater flexibility to teachers as they perform their job each day. We are asking the staff and community to walk with us in this journey, and keep us accountable.”
Each member of the board of trustees has been asked to appoint three representatives to the Local Innovation Committee, while the superintendent will appoint nine. The committee will be comprised of various stakeholder groups, who will also consider input from a community survey.
Following the creation of a Local Innovation Plan, there will be opportunities for public input. In order to become a District of Innovation, the district’s Academic Advisory Council (AAC) would have to hold a public meeting and approve the Local Innovation Plan by a majority vote. Following AAC approval, the plan would then be presented to the board of trustees in another public meeting, with approval subject to a two-thirds majority vote.
The current timeline has the committee beginning its work in December, with possibility of board action during the spring semester. Updated timeline and meeting information will be provided on the district’s website, www.fortbendisd.com, as the process moves forward.