HB 1842, approved during the 84th Legislative Session, provides the opportunity for Texas public school districts to pursue designation as a District of Innovation.
The District of Innovation designation allows school districts to have greater local control over district operations in specified areas, as outlined in a local plan. Areas that may be included in the District plan are:
Innovative curriculum, instructional methods;
Provisions regarding community participation, campus governance and parental involvement;
Modifications to the school day or year;
Provisions regarding district budget and sustainable program funding;
Accountability and assessment measures that exceed the requirements of the state and federal law; and
Any other innovations prescribed by the board of trustees.
On Feb. 8, 2017, the Willis ISD board of trustees discussed and approved a Resolution to Initiate the Process of Designation as a District of Innovation as defined by HB 1842. During a public hearing on the same day, the board appointed the District Education Improvement Committee (DEIC) to oversee the process of developing the plan. On Feb. 9, 2017, the DEIC convened in a regular meeting to identify key areas of need for Willis ISD.
The DEIC developed an initial draft and the plan was posted on the Willis ISD website March 2, 2017. At this time, Commissioner Morath was notified of the posting and of the intent to hold board vote. The plan remained posted for 30 days during which time the district received public input as well as guidance from TEA. The committee met to consider feedback received and finalize the plan April 6, 2017. The DEIC recommended the plan be presented to the board of trustees for consideration. The board adopted the plan April 12, 2017.
The Willis ISD District of Innovation plan is guided by and aligned with Willis ISD’s mission: The mission of Willis Independent School District is to develop in each student the knowledge, skills and behaviors essential for life-long learning and for productive, responsible citizenship.