By J. NOEL ESPINOZA
San Benito News
Before deciding whether to pursuit District of Innovation (DOI) status for the district, SBCISD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nate Carman recommended to discuss four talking points in committee and then set up a public hearing with the school board.
At a Tuesday curriculum committee meeting, Carman said the board is not approving the plan, but it simply gives the board the option to do it at a later date.
The four talking points include changing the school year schedule with the option to start earlier, extending probationary contracts to new teachers from one to up to three years, allowing the class ratio to not more than 24 in K4 grades, and hiring vocational teachers with professional experience and CTE (career and technical education) courses rather than a bachelor’s degree.
Carman said whatever the committee decides to move forward they can consider none of the items, all four, or anything in between.
“These aren’t finalized, these are discussion points,” Carman said.
Despite the opposition voiced by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association (TCTA) in a previous meeting, the board agreed to continue exploring these points.
Fearing a lower quality of education, TCTA plead last month to reject District of Innovation status. A TCTA representative said the association represents about 550 members in the district.
Dohn S. Larson, director of legal services for TCTA, spoke briefly last month to the board where he stated that its members want the district to reject a resolution to pursue District of Innovation status (DOI).
According to TCTA, the district of innovation concept was passed into law in 2015 when the 84th Texas Legislature created Texas Education Code chapter 12A, Districts of Innovation. The law allows traditional independent school districts to access most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open enrollment charter schools.
Larson said the reason behind acquiring DOI is to save the district money at the risk of compromising a quality of education. Even though SBCISD hasn’t yet implemented such status, Larson said district officials act like that’s what they are planning to do.
Some of the exemptions include adding the ratio to more than 22 students per teacher in grades K4, and hiring non-certified teachers, Larson said.
“It appears that the district has already adopted its DOI plan,” Larson said. “A copy of the plan has circulated and outlines four exemptions.”