Conroe ISD to pursue renewal of District of Innovation designation

Conroe ISD's board of trustees met for a regular meeting Oct. 20. (Screenshot via Conroe ISD YouTube)
Conroe ISD's board of trustees met for a regular meeting Oct. 20. (Screenshot via Conroe ISD YouTube)

Conroe ISD's board of trustees met for a regular meeting Oct. 20. (Screenshot via Conroe ISD YouTube)

Conroe ISD is seeking to maintain its status as a District of Innovation following a public hearing and a vote by district trustees to pursue a renewal to CISD's local innovation plan during the board's Oct. 20 regular meeting.

The District of Innovation designation, which was first established by the Texas Legislature in 2015, allows school districts with accountability ratings of "C" or above to utilize certain exemptions related to class sizes, school year schedules, and teacher contracts and certifications.

“This 'District of Innovation' [designation] provides an opportunity to design an innovation plan according to the needs and resources of our district. It maximizes local control; it increases local flexibility; it provides a local option other than the formal waiver option that we still use," Deputy Superintendent Chris Hines said.

CISD began pursuing its first innovation district designation in fall 2016 and approved its initial plan that December.

Hines said the main change that may result from the district's renewal this year could relate to the certification of career and technical education instructors.

“The one thing that has come up over the last five years that’s been requested has been: Several districts in our area have a waiver for the area of CTE certification, which is specifically related to hard-to-fill positions in the manufacturing areas, such as welding, collision and repair, automotive technology, health science and computer science," he said.

The board of trustees unanimously voted to renew the designation and to appoint the existing District-Level Planning and Decision-Making Committee as the District of Innovation Plan Committee that will develop the revised innovation plan. The district utilized the same committee structure when crafting its first plan in 2016, Hines said.

The district committee was scheduled to meet Oct. 21 to begin is planning process, and Hines said a draft plan would be made available online in the coming weeks for a 30-day review period before final recommendations are set. The new innovation plan is expected to be brought before the board for approval during its December regular meeting.

During the regular meeting, trustees also unanimously approved a guaranteed maximum price amendment with contractor Brookstone LP for the construction of a new faculty training center on district property north of Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah.

Brookstone was first selected by the board as the project's construction manager in June, and the builder submitted a guaranteed maximum price of $15.55 million for the nearly 50,000-square-foot, two-story training facility Oct. 20. Construction is expected to begin in early 2021.

"We can talk about trying to be efficient with your dollars. This is about as efficient a building as we'll have access to," trustee Ray Sanders said. "It's more centrally located for a district our size, and so every teacher should have, I believe, an easier access up here to that. ... I'm really proud that we're going to be able to do this."

The next meeting of the board of trustees is scheduled for Nov. 17 at 6 p.m.
By Ben Thompson
Ben joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2019 and is a reporter for The Woodlands edition.


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