In a pivotal decision, the 9-person Board of Managers overseeing one of the largest school districts in the state has unanimously voted to designate the Houston Independent School District (HISD) as a District of Innovation. This move, endorsed Thursday night, sets the stage for potentially contentious alterations to the school system, including the hiring of uncertified teachers and an extension of the school year calendar.
This unanimous commitment represents the final procedural step for the board to implement these changes, following more than two years of advocacy by board members and school administrators seeking this innovative designation. Becoming a District of Innovation grants exemptions to the district from several state education laws.
The proposed plan had already garnered approval from a 61-member District Advisory Committee, consisting of parents, teachers, and community members. Notably, some committee members were personally selected by state-appointed Superintendent Mike Miles, who assumed his role earlier this year. The committee’s approval preceded the ultimate endorsement from the Board of Managers.
It is worth noting that a similar proposal in 2021 faced rejection from the committee, citing apprehensions about the potential inclusion of uncertified teachers. Currently, nearly 1,000 school districts in the state of Texas hold the designation of Districts of Innovation.
In a statement, Superintendent Mike Miles expressed enthusiasm for the approved plan, emphasizing the necessity of bold changes to enhance instruction and foster student competencies for future success. Miles asserted that the District of Innovation designation, long sought after, will expedite crucial advancements.
This designation bestows upon the school district opportunities to introduce professional development initiatives for teachers, providing them with enhanced on-the-job training. Additionally, the district can now adopt an alternative teacher evaluation system, among other potential changes.
The unanimous approval of the plan transpired with minimal discourse among board members on Thursday night, despite some resistance from community members. The District of Innovation status is poised to usher in a new era for HISD, catalyzing initiatives aimed at elevating the quality of education in the district.