Houston ISD trustees could vote on whether to explore a District of Innovation plan in May

HISD board of education
The Houston ISD board of education heard a budget update and a proposal for seeking out a District of Innovation designation at an April 27 workshop. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Houston ISD board of education heard a budget update and a proposal for seeking out a District of Innovation designation at an April 27 workshop. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)

Amid uncertainty and questions around the district's long-term response to the coronavirus outbreak, Houston ISD's board of trustees heard a pitch from interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan on April 27 to consider seeking a "District of Innovation" designation from the Texas Education Agency.

"I wanted to bring it back. ... Everyone's been asking, 'What will the 2020-21 school year look like?'" Lathan said.

Gaining the status would allow HISD to address two areas, she said: adjusting the start date to earlier in August, and adding flexibility to hire instructors for career and technical education courses without requiring teacher certifications.

"They didn't take the traditional route. ... They were out in industry, out in their field, working for a number of years, now they have something they want to offer to teach our students. If we cannot get them an alternative certification, then we can't hire that person," Lathan said.

The district had 27 CTE instructor vacancies in 2019-20, affecting its ability to reach state standards for career and college readiness, Lathan said.


The designation can also allow a district to have some flexibility around class sizes, discipline policies and staff benefits.

The item was not up for a vote, but if Lathan follows the proposed timeline, she will bring a resolution to begin the formal planning effort at the May 14 meeting. A planning committee would be formed in June, a public hearing would be held, and based on an aggressive proposed timeline, Lathan said a final plan could go before the board in October. The district advisory committee must also weigh in.

"This is the fastest timeline that we could come up with. It normally takes a year of planning and preparation," Lathan said.

If the timeline is followed and the district adopts a innovation plan, it would take effect in the 2021-22 school year and could remain in place for up to five years. The TEA does not approve the plans, but its rules govern the process by which a district may become a district of innovation, and the approved plan itself is a legally binding document.

While many nearby districts, including Spring Branch, Fort Bend, Pearland and Alief, have the designation, the largest, Cy-Fair ISD, abandoned plans to seek the designation in October.

The board next meets May 7 for agenda review and a budget workshop.
By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


MOST RECENT

Under guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, day care centers, bars and entertainment venues—including bowling alleys and bingo parlors—were allowed to reopen a limited occupancy May 22. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Officials confirm 469 new cases over Memorial Day weekend

Under guidelines from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, day care centers, bars and entertainment venues—including bowling alleys and bingo parlors—were allowed to reopen a limited occupancy May 22.

Houston ISD was distributing as much as 15,000 pounds of food per day during its 10-week community program, which wrapped up May 22. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston ISD transitions to curbside meal pickup program starting June 1

After two months of distributing food across the community, Houston ISD is changing gears for the summer.

Souq International Markets will open its new Katy-area location soon. (Susan Rovegno/Community Impact Newspaper)
ROUNDUP: Memorial Day business updates from the Houston area

Read some of the latest business news from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

Houston's unemployment rate hit a record high at 14.2%, leaving more than 450,000 workers unemployed. (Matt Dulin/Community Impact Newspaper)
Greater Houston area sees record-breaking unemployment rate in April at 14.2%

The previous high for the Greater Houston area's unemployment rate was set in January 2010 at 8.7%.

Harris County homeowners who are age 65 or older or who have disabilities can expect property tax relief this year in the form of expanded property tax exemptions. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County unanimously votes to increase homestead exemptions for seniors, the disabled

Harris County homeowners who are age 65 or older or who have disabilities can expect property tax relief this year in the form of expanded property tax exemptions.

Houston ISD interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan said she is exploring multiple options for the 2020-21 school year. (Screnshot via HISD TV)
Longer school days and more: Top stories from this week in Houston

Read the most popular stories covering the Greater Houston area from this week on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

National study predicts June coronavirus spike in Houston area

New modeling suggests Harris County's lack of social distancing compliance may spur a surge in new cases.

texas-reopening
LIST: What is open, closed in Texas and how businesses can operate

Texas openings are staggered with different opening dates and operating limits.

Texas Medical Center has seen nearly a 26% increase in COVID-19 discharges over the past few weeks. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)
Texas Medical Center reports continued week-over-week increases in COVID discharges, deaths; hospitalizations, ICU numbers remain steady

Texas Medical Center has seen nearly a 26% increase in COVID-19 discharges over the past few weeks.

All patients, residents and staff at Texas' 23 state hospitals and supported living centers are to be tested for coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas to test all state hospitals, supported living centers for COVID-19

All patients, residents and staff at Texas' 23 state hospitals and supported living centers will be tested for coronavirus regardless of symptoms or exposure.

In a letter addressed to state agencies and higher education institutions, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen said the reduced budget comes in preparation to the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on state finances expected to be felt in the coming months. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Budget cuts slated for Texas state agencies, higher education institutions in 2020-21 biennium

Texas state agencies and institutions of higher education to expect a 5% reduction in budget plans for the 2020-21 biennium as part of the state's response to the economic ramifications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Active cases of COVID-19 came in at 6,012 in Harris County as of May 21, up from 5,208 one week ago on May 14. However, the total number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have remained flat over that time. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 188 new cases, 141 recoveries and six deaths confirmed May 21

Active cases of COVID-19 came in at 6,012 in Harris County as of May 21, up from 5,208 one week ago on May 14. However, the total number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 have remained flat over that time.