The Aledo ISD board of trustees adopted a resolution to start the process of designating AISD as a District of Innovation and also approved a DOI committee.
DOI was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature and gives public school districts the opportunity to access some operational flexibilities and obtain more local control based on district needs, which include exemptions from some state mandates related to student attendance, decision-making process, academic calendar and teach appraisals.
“Almost 80 percent of the 1,000 districts in the state are Districts of Innovation and there’s some situations in which we are put at disadvantage when all of our neighbors are DOI,” AISD Superintendent Dr. Susan Bohn said.
Deputy Superintendent Lynn McKinney said there is a specific timeline the district will follow for becoming a DOI.
“[The committee] will begin working on developing a plan,” McKinney said. “There’s not a plan in place right now and the committee will explore all the different options and determine what they believe is best of our district.”
Once a plan is decided on, it will be posted on the AISD website for at least 30 days. On Dec. 20 the board will notify the commissioner of the intent to adopt a plan and on Jan. 9 the committee will hold a public meeting to consider and approve the final version with a majority vote. The plan will then go to the board of trustees Feb. 19 and will need to be approved with a two-thirds majority vote. The final step would then be to once again notify the commissioner.
McKinney said there will be several ways of communication throughout the process including meeting with the DOI committee, monthly reports at board meetings, website and social media updates and feedback from all stakeholders on the draft plan during the 30-day window.
“The plan may change from one month to the next as we receive feedback,” McKinney said.
A public hearing was held, to which no one spoke during, and the board approved the motions unanimously.
“It’s our responsibility to use these exemptions in a way that benefits the students, teachers and families, and I just really appreciate the communication,” Board Member Forrest Collins said. “Sometimes as a parent you look at the words on a page and you will jump to all these conclusions, but when you actually hear how it actually looks like in a classroom then you can see it makes a total difference. I encourage parents to get involved and follow the meetings and see what this actually looks like.”
AISD’s District of Innovation webpage can be found by visiting www.aledoisd.org/domain/2005 and will continually be updated.
The board also heard an update from Chief Financial Officer Earl Husfeld and Bohn on the district’s growth and facilities planning. The most recent enrollment for the district is 6,085.
“We believe that we’re probably headed toward a November 2019 bond election and so that means that the work will be starting very quickly,” Bohn said. “We’re interested in making sure that the community has a full understanding of where we’re going. This would mean that in the next couple of regular board meetings we’re talking about bond planning, what that would look like, we’re talking about growth and then setting up the bond planning process, which will probably be happening in the spring.”
Bohn said a citizen advisory committee will be selected and they will ultimately come to a decision on what they believe the bond package should be.
“We’re looking forward to getting started,” Bohn said. “Also, we have been interviewing for the position of director of facilities and instruction and we are very excited to have that person named pretty soon or at least recommended that person to you.”