Spring Branch ISD trustees at the Dec. 12 regular meeting unanimously approved two local exemptions to state education code, the first as a District of Innovation (DoI).
Trustees exempted the district from the rule that mandates the first day of school cannot be before the fourth Monday in August, and also the rule that mandates a school day be at least seven hours.
The school start date exemption came at the request of the District Improvement Team (DIT), which helps put together the district’s academic calendar. The DIT wants to look at alternative start dates to help create a better balance of days between semesters.
The seven-hour rule was exempted to allow campuses to schedule early dismissal days to allow for parent-teacher conferences and staff development. The Texas Education Agency normally grants waivers for early dismissal days but has now advises districts to seek District of Innovation status for the waivers.
Trustees unanimously approved SBISD’s designation as a District of Innovation in April of last year, following a seven-month community-based process that resulted in a required Local Innovation Plan that also serves as the district’s new five-year plan, The Learner’s Journey.
SBISD trustees added a requirement that DoI exemptions require a two-thirds affirmative vote before approval, or five of seven trustees. Trustees also created a process for community input on exemptions being considered, posting them for 30 days on a website for public inspection and comment.
The 84th Texas Legislature passed HB 1842 in 2015, the legislation allowing for Districts of Innovation. Spring Branch ISD was one of the first districts in the state to designate itself a DoI.