District of Innovation local plan proposed and 2 other takeaways from Pflugerville ISD meeting

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The Pflugerville ISD board of trustees meeting on Feb. 16 addressed many changes coming to the district, including a potential district of innovation plan.

District of Innovation Plan committee presents first reading of local innovation plan

Pflugerville ISD’s district of innovation committee presented its proposal for a local innovation plan that that proposes a change to school start dates and the number of days it requires for contract employees.

Currently students have 15 additional days to prepare for standardized tests in the fall semester than they do in the spring semester. Adjusting the start date to earlier in August will create more balance and make winter break a midpoint in the year, according to the proposed plan. Allowing for an earlier end date in the year will give students who need to retake standardized tests in the summer more time to prepare. Currently students who retake standardized tests after the last day of school have only 10 days to prepare, the plan states.

The other adjustment to PfISD policy proposed more flexibility in the number days required for teacher contracts. A reduction in required teacher instruction days will increase the number of compensated days spent for professional development and leading extracurriculars. This adjustment may serve as a recruitment and retention tool for the district, the plan stated.

The committee, made up of over 80 PfISD staff, administrators, community members and parents, presented the plan to PfISD’s board of trustees and will offer opportunities in the next month to collect public feedback. The board will not vote on the plan until March.

Trustee Carol Fletcher said she looks forward to hearing input from members of the community on the proposed local innovation plan.

“One of our philosophies in this school district is diversity is our strength. We want a diverse group of people providing input on this,” Fletcher said.

Windermere campus consolidation plan gets preliminary design ideas

The board of trustees was also presented with preliminary plans for the consolidation of Windermere Primary School and Windermere Elementary School. The two options presented to the board both proposed a corridor connecting the two schools as well as changes to traffic patterns for parent queues and school bus queues. The second, more extensive option included a library connecting the two schools with corridors on either side as well as an expanded cafeteria.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, some teachers expressed concern that the consolidation of the two schools will result in staff terminations and decreased safety for students in the larger school.

Fletcher said the trustees’ priority is to not cut any staff and because the plan is still in its early stages, there is time to collect input from teachers and community members.

Board approves early resignation incentive program for one year

The board also approved an early resignation incentive program. The program, which will begin on Feb. 19, awards a $1,000 bonus to the first 100 teachers to confirm their resignation at the end of the 2018 school year.

Teachers that have been placed on administrative leave in the 2017-18 academic year are not permitted to apply, according to the plan.

The advantage of the plan, Superintendent Douglas Killian said, is to get a jump-start on the hiring season for the next year and also see if any vacated positions can be consolidated with positions of employees who are not leaving or if the positions can be eliminated altogether, thus saving the district money on salaries without cutting staff.

Killian then said the intention of the program is not to encourage teacher resignations, but rather gain earlier notice from teachers who had been planning to leave already.

Trustee Renae Mitchell expressed concern that the “first-come, first-served” style of the incentive program would not give preference to teachers who have worked in the district for several years over new teachers. For this reason, the board agreed to enact the program for one year and collect data on the tenure of teachers who apply for the bonus to determine if teachers with longer standing in the school district miss out on the bonus.

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  1. Miriam Moorman

    Regarding the District of Innovation plan, this article may be lacking some information that is important to know in regards to deciding if this plan is good for the district or not. As a member of the community who was both on the DOI committee AND involved in the lobby for the later school start date, I feel that I have more information than most people do.

    The flexibility in the school calendar has some great rationale and just having that flexibility alone is useful whether the district actually decides to change the school start date or not (the plan doesn’t require a change, only offers the flexibility for one). The public should be made aware, however, that one of the main reasons for the regulation requiring the later start date was for cost savings to the schools. It is simply more expensive to cool the schools in the middle of August than it is in late May/early June. The district is tasked to be a responsible caretaker of our limited funds and an extensive study of utility costs should be made before changing the calendar. While the rationale is good, anything that might produce a higher cost should be considered only with a fair weighing of the pros and cons, especially in regards to the cost tradeoff.

    The second proposal is more troublesome, not because it wasn’t made with some good thought, but because it doesn’t go far enough to define the parameters. The proposal deals only with teachers on a 10 month contract. Currently those teachers are required to work a MINIMUM of 187 service days (a day is defined as 420 minutes or 7 hours). The proposal is to change that to a MAXIMUM of 187 service days. This is to allow teachers more time for personal and professional development but this article is misleading in that it presents it as an increase in days when it is actually a decrease (but thankfully, NOT a decrease in teacher pay). Again, the rationale is good but the plan does not define what else teachers might be allowed to count as “service days” (assuming that development is the goal here) nor what happens if a teacher reaches the maximum amount of days prior to the end of the school year (or what restrictions should be placed to prevent that). If a teacher’s contract is fulfilled at the reaching of that maximum, does the teacher get bonus or overtime pay? Will a substitute be required to fill out any remaining days in the school year? It isn’t clearly stated and because of that, again, the school district could end up with unexpected additional costs which need to be weighed before approving this plan as is or the plan needs to be further developed to address those potential issues.

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Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Northwest Austin reporter. She is also responsible for citywide health care and entertainment coverage. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism in May 2017.
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