Trustees approve policies for District of Innovation

first_img After nearly a year of legal wrangling, a grievance filed by the local affiliate of the Texas State Teachers Association related to Ector County Independent School District’s designation as a District of Innovation was settled with school board approval of a set of policies.The grievance was filed in May 2017. The concept of a District of Innovation was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 (HB 1842). The law allows traditional independent school districts to access most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools. To be eligible, a school district must have an accountability rating of “met standard,” which ECISD has.Mike Atkins, the attorney for ECISD, said the policy codifies what was in the District of Innovation plan. He said he worked with TSTA’s attorney on the wording of the policies and agreed to give the organization input.Once the policies were approved, it served as an automatic dismissal of the grievance, Atkins said at Tuesday’s board work study session. He said TSTA seemed most concerned about the certification requirements for career and technology education teachers.Contracts for the AVID program were discussed during the Ector County Independent School District Board of Trustees work study session.In use districtwide, AVID is a college preparation program that teaches note taking, time management and organization. AVID stands for Advancement via Individual Determination.AVID District Director Dianne Mata said the 2018-19 contract will cost $106,000.A new contract discussed by board members is for AVID Excel at Bonham Middle School. Part of the campus turnaround plan, Bonham Excel targets English language learners in seventh and eighth grade.Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carolyn Gonzalez said Bonham’s turnaround plan will cost $109,000 per year for two years. Of that, AVID Excel will cost $9,100 and include training, curriculum for a teacher, a classroom library, virtual professional development and a summer bridge program that students would have to attend before next fall.Officials noted that several teachers will be trained in AVID Excel and Mata could do a lot of it because she is qualified to do so.Mata said about 40 students at Bonham would qualify for AVID Excel and all of them can be accommodated. She said there will be a parent information meeting about it and PowerPoint presentations are already available in English and Spanish.In other discussion, language in the proposed charter for the Bond Planning Committee was edited so members wouldn’t have to attend every meeting. Atkins proposed saying that people should use their best efforts to attend.The committee began meeting April 9. The next meeting is scheduled for May 10 and will include a facilities tour.Superintendent Tom Crowe said anyone has the opportunity to join the committee and meetings are posted in case board members want to attend.On purchases of more than $50,000, Gonzalez said request for proposals are out for a consultant for six elementary campuses that are on improvement required status under state accountability standards.The consultant would work with Blackshear, Goliad, West, Burleson, Ireland and Downing elementary schools, Gonzalez said.On a separate item, trustees approved changing the next board meeting date from April 17.Trustees plan to meet twice — April 24 and April 26.The April 24 meeting would be to consider a proposal from Texas Tech University to create an in-district charter at Ector Middle School.A parent meeting on the plan is set for Thursday at the school, 809 W. Clements St.Dinner and student performances begin at 5 p.m. and the Texas Tech presentation will begin shortly after 6 p.m.The plan is one of the options available to school board members as a remedy to Ector being in its fifth year of IR. Noel and Pease elementary schools are also in their fifth year of IR. If the campuses don’t come off the list, they will face closure or the Texas Education Commissioner will appoint a board of managers over the whole district.The April 26 meeting will include action items on Tuesday’s agenda, plus a discussion on boundary changes due to school overcrowding.The date change for the regular meeting will give district officials time to hold parent meetings regarding proposed boundary changes.The board also about 25 minutes in closed session reviewing contracts for administrators, teachers, and other professional support employees. No action was taken.PREVIOUS VERSION: Policies related to Ector County Independent School District’s designation as a District of Innovation were approved, which settled a dispute with the local affiliate of the Texas State Teachers Association.The grievance was filed in May 2017. The concept of a District of Innovation was passed by the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015 (HB 1842). The law allows traditional independent school districts to access most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools. To be eligible, a school district must have an accountability rating of “met standard,” which ECISD has.Exemptions the board approved April 11, 2017, included:Changing the school start date. Under state law, districts must start no earlier than the fourth Monday in August. Officials have said this will not affect teacher contracts. Teachers will still have 187 days.Certification requirements for career and technology education teachers so the district can hire experienced welding, automotive technology, auto collision and construction technology teachers who have experience, but may not have a college degree. These positions are historically difficult to fill, officials have said.And not using student performance as a factor in teacher and administrator appraisals for this year.Mike Atkins, the attorney for ECISD, said the policy codifies what was in the District of Innovation plan. He said he worked with TSTA’s attorney on the wording of the policies and agreed to give the organization input.Once the policies were approved, it served as an automatic dismissal of the grievance, Atkins said. He said TSTA seemed most concerned about the certification requirements for career and technology education teachers.The board also discussed approving the 2018-19 contract for AVID, a college preparation program in use districtwide. AVID stands for Advancement via Individual Determination.AVID District Director Dianne Mata said the contract will cost $106,000.Mata said she believes AVID is a way to bring success to students. It’s a question of teacher training. A one-day training is offered and while she doesn’t think it’s enough, there is only her and a coordinator currently so they do the best they can.Board member Delma Abalos said it’s not fair to expect teachers to use AVID well if they aren’t trained adequately.A new contract discussed by board members is for AVID Excel at Bonham Middle School. Part of the campus turnaround plan, Bonham Excel targets English language learners in seventh and eighth grade.Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carolyn Gonzalez said Bonham’s turnaround plan will cost $109,000 per year for two years. Of that, AVID Excel will cost $9,100 and include training, curriculum for a teacher, a classroom library, virtual professional development and a summer bridge program that students would have to attend before next fall.Officials noted that several teachers will be trained in AVID Excel and Mata could do a lot of it because she is qualified.Mata said about 40 students at Bonham would qualify for AVID Excel and all of them can be accommodated. She said there will be a parent information meeting about it and PowerPoint presentations are already available in English and Spanish.In other discussion, language in the proposed charter for the Bond Planning Committee was edited so members wouldn’t have to attend every meeting. Atkins proposed saying that people should use their best efforts to attend.Superintendent Tom Crowe said anyone has an opportunity to join the committee and meetings are posted in case board members want to attend.On purchases of more than $50,000, Gonzalez said request for proposals are out for a consultant for six elementary campuses that are on improvement required status under state accountability standards.The consultant would work with Blackshear, Goliad, West, Burleson, Ireland and Downing elementary schools, Gonzalez said.On a separate item, trustees approved changing the next board meeting date from April 17.Trustees plan to meet twice — April 24 and April 26.The April 24 meeting would be to consider a proposal from Texas Tech University to create an in-district charter at Ector Middle School.A parent meeting on the plan is set for Thursday at the school, 809 W. Clements St.Dinner and student performances begin at 5 p.m. and the Texas Tech presentation will begin shortly after 6 p.m.The plan is one of the options available to school board members as a remedy to Ector being in its fifth year of IR. Noel and Pease elementary schools are also in their fifth year of IR. If the campuses don’t come off the list, they will face closure or the Texas Education Commissioner will appoint a board of managers over the whole district.The April 26 meeting will include action items on Tuesday’s agenda, plus a discussion on boundary changes due to school overcrowding.The date change for the regular meeting will give district officials time to hold parent meetings regarding proposed boundary changes.The board also met for about 25 minutes in closed session reviewing contracts for administrators, teachers, and other professional support employees. No action was taken. 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