Northside ISD trustees April 25 approved a plan to make NISD a District of Innovation.

The overview

District officials said a District of Innovation plan allows independent public school districts to access flexibilities currently available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools.

District officials added that such flexibilities enacted by a District of Innovation plan would exempt NISD from state requirements that may limit its ability to carry out innovative ideas.

What happened?

The school board’s approval of the plan capped a five-month process that involved meetings with several committees, including one committee of parents, teachers, district staff, principals and other community members. The five-year DOI plan is now being reviewed by the Texas Education Agency.

What’s next?

According to the DOI plan, key exemptions include enabling NISD to consider starting its school year earlier each August.

District spokesperson Barry Perez said, currently, NISD cannot begin its school year before the fourth Monday in August.

Perez added because NISD has already approved its 2023-24 academic year, the district will not be able to implement an earlier school year start until it develops the 2024-25 academic year.

Perez said the district office has not received any complaints from NISD parents wondering about the lag time between the traditional end of local summer camps and seasonal programming for youths, and the start of the 2023-24 year, which is Aug. 28.

But Perez said that lag time is still important for NISD teachers and staff to adequately prepare for the beginning of a new year.

Perez said NISD will have other DOI-related exemptions covering probationary contracts for newly hired teachers, campus behavior coordinator duties, educator certification requirements and teacher/administration appraisals.