The Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees voted unanimously to approve a District of Innovation plan during its regular board meeting Jan. 18.

The board members discussed concerns cited by teachers, parents and other staff before ultimately voting to approve the plan by a vote of 7-0. The vote was the last step in a process considering the merits of adopting a plan to gain more local control over district operations per state law.

The DOI plan was recommended by CFISD’s Districtwide Education Improvement Council, which includes teachers, parents, and community and business leaders.

The framework

As previously reported, the proposed plan has four innovation pillars:
  • First day of instruction: The district will have more control of the school calendar, such as start and end dates for each school year.
  • Career and technical education certification: The district can expedite the approval process for hiring CTE teachers.
  • Local permit for certified teachers with flexibility for teaching outside of content or outside of grade band: This exemption permits the district to allow certified teachers to provide instruction in classes outside of their content area or grade, as flexibility is needed in certain subject areas where the district lacks a certified teacher in that specific curriculum area.
  • Out-of-state certification: This exemption will expedite the approval process for hiring teachers certified out of state. If a teacher holds an out-of-state standard certification and is seeking certification in Texas, he or she could apply for a review of credentials and eligibility for potential test exemptions by the Texas Education Agency.
What they're saying

Board members said they had heard concerns from constituents regarding the plan as it pertains to allowing teachers who are not yet certified to teach in Texas to work in CFISD, as well as the plan's component that would allow teachers to teach grades other than the ones they are currently teaching.

“So the consensus I'm hearing is, one, we're going to level the playing field, just like other districts were, which is going to be great for a district that has to be more competitive,” board President Scott Henry said. “We're going to hopefully reduce some of the long-term sub situations, which is a good thing for our district.”

Trustee Natalie Blasingame said the state’s insistence on state certification is the exception nationally, often hindering districts from attracting top talent. She said teacher experience has proven to be more important than being certified in the state.

Linda Macias, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the most widely accepted teaching credentials are from the National Board Certification, rather than state certifications, and many prospective teachers applying to the district have that certification instead.

What else?

After the measure had passed, Superintendent Doug Killian thanked the board for their approval of the plan and their faith that he would ensure accountability and successful outcomes for the plan in the future.

“Thank you trustees for the support that you put in us, and we will monitor this as well. And just a self-admission, I was actually an emergency permit person. I taught first grade without [certification but] with a degree only and an emergency permit,” Killian said. “And one of the things that really saved me was the support of the district and also a wonderful mentor teacher that just held my hand through the whole process.”

What’s next?

Under the DOI designation, CFISD will now be exempt from the state law requiring districts to start school on the fourth Monday in August.

The board could vote on the district's 2024-25 academic calendar as soon as the Feb. 12 meeting. Those interested can share feedback on the instructional calendar through Feb. 2 here.