Austin ISD joined more than 100 other Texas school districts tonight when its board of trustees voted unanimously to approve an innovation plan which will exempt it from a handful of state requirements. The plan will be in effect until March 27, 2022.

A district classified as a District of Innovation adopts a plan that exempts it from certain state laws, including site-based decision-making, school start date requirements, minimum minutes of instruction, class size ratio, attendance rules, disciplinary procedures, teacher contracts and other legal requirements.

Trustee Cindy Anderson suggested adding wording to the innovation plan to ensure any future addition or subtractions to the exemptions would require the same amount of engagement from the Innovation District Advisory Committee and the community that was required to form the first set of exemptions, as well as approval by the IDAC. The amendment failed 4-4-1. Trustees Anderson, Julie Cowan, Ann Teich and Amber Elenz voted to pass the amendment; Trustees Kendall Pace, Paul Saldaña, Edmund Gordon and Yasmin Wagner voted the amendment down; and Trustee Jayme Mathias abstained.

At a March 20 board meeting, the trustees heard an update from the IDAC, the group of 36 citizens tasked with formulating the innovation plan, on the four exemptions it planned to seek under AISD's status as a District of Innovation. Referencing feedback gathered from AISD students, teacher and staff, the IDAC formed exemptions which included changes to the school year calendar, allowances for non-certified teachers to teach certain courses, and adjustments to the minimum attendance and minutes of instruction.