DISTRICT NEWS RELEASE
Contact: Christina Courson, Public Information Officer
(512) 398-0033 office
(512) 738-1413 cell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 11, 2017
LISD Board approves “District of Innovation” plan
Lockhart Independent School District’s Board of Trustees voted to approve the District of Innovation (DOI) plan developed by its DOI committee of 30 members including teachers, administrators, and community members, and facilitated by Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Mark Estrada and Deputy Superintendent Kimberly Brents. Trustees voted 6-1 formally designating LISD as a District of Innovation. Trustee Becky Lockhart voted nay. In addition, the trustees voted unanimously to revise Board policy to enact the District of Innovation.
LISD joins over 220 public school districts across the state who have exercised the option to pursue designation as a District of Innovation as provided by House Bill 1842 of the 84th Texas Legislature.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Mark Estrada and representatives of the DOI committee presented the plan for final reading and approval, including Krystin Feole, a teacher at Clear Fork Elementary, Amanda Soliz, a teacher at Navarro Elementary, Bobby Herzog, a community member, Sheila Henderson, executive director of athletics and UIL, and Deanna Juarez, principal at Lockhart High School. This same group presented the plan for first reading at the Feb. 27 regular Board meeting, kicking off a 30-day public comment period before taking the final steps in the DOI timeline.
In his opening remarks, Estrada highlighted the work of the committee, stating, “This committee that worked on the DOI plan spent a lot of outside time--after the school day, late into the evening-- doing a lot of work and research for the innovation plan.”
Representatives took turns presenting the plan. When Feole took her turn at the podium, Trustee Steve Johnson noted Feole had been initially skeptical of DOI and asked what changed her mind. “I came in very skeptical in this process. That is why I volunteered,” Feole responded. “I am comfortable with this.There is a process for anything that we’re going to ask for in the future. It is transparent. There’s no ‘rogue administration’ that is going to come in and just slip things under the rug. I’m comfortable with that.”
The most significant feature of the LISD plan is the district’s exercise of local control in school operations to do what is best for Lockhart students. This allows the district to strengthen accountability, secure highly skilled teachers for specialized non-core courses, and tailor the academic calendar to better support teacher professional development and planning to boost student learning.
Currently, LISD is only allowed to hire teachers with Texas certification. This presents a barrier in finding certified teachers for specialized classes, particularly in Career and Technology Education courses. This plan removes the requirement for certification only in non-core courses to allow the district to employ highly-specialized, skilled individuals within their fields to teach LISD students. Teachers hired under this provision of the plan would also be required to participate in a special mentorship and intensive training program for no less than one year to bolster classroom management skills.
The plan enables the district to develop an appraisal system for teachers that places more emphasis on teaching and learning and less reliance upon assessments.
The plan expands opportunities within the district’s academic calendar for teachers to engage in professional development, collaboration, and individual teacher planning to strengthen instruction and boost student learning. It also balances the semesters for students, with the first semester ending at Christmas break.
Finally, the plan ensures further flexibility for the district by securing each allowable exemption under the law as potential tools to amend the plan. Any and all future changes to the DOI plan would only occur through a process including the committee, the District Advisory Committee, and the Board.
“I am grateful for the countless hours and hard work volunteered by the members of the DOI Committee to develop a plan that helps Lockhart ISD make local decisions to do what is best for our kids,” said Superintendent Susan Bohn. “The flexibility offered by this plan will prepare the district to be agile during population growth periods, technological and industry changes, and increasingly higher expectations for staff and student success.”