Districts of Innovation

“For years, Texas school board members and administrators have complained about the ever-increasing number of state mandates and prescriptive laws and bemoaned the continual erosion of local control. Now there is a realistic process for districts to do something about this. Take advantage. Investigate the possibilities and potential of becoming a district of innovation”.

James B. Crow
Executive Director, TASB

What is a District of Innovation?

The District of Innovation concept, passed by the 84th Legislative Session in House Bill 1842, gives traditional independent school districts most of the flexibilities available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools.

What can a District of Innovation do?

Potential benefits of becoming a District of Innovation include:

  • Local control: Districts decide which flexibilities best suit their local needs.
  • Customization: Districts can create an innovation plan for a level of school (e.g., only high schools), grade level, or a single campus.
  • Autonomy: Districts must submit a district of innovation plan to the commissioner of education, but approval is not required. 
  • Flexibility: Districts will have the flexibility to implement practices similar to charter schools, including exemptions from mandates such as:
  • School start date
  • 90% attendance rule
  • Class-size ratios
  • Site-based decision-making processes
  • Certain student discipline provisions
  • Use of planning and preparation periods
  • Teacher appraisal requirements

What is the process?

As you start to formulate ideas for your district, here are a few additional resources that can help you through the process:

  1. Refer to the Districts of Innovation FAQ for an overview. 
  2. Review the steps to become a District of Innovation 
  3. Modify the Sample Resolution for your board to adopt. This is the first step toward becoming a District of Innovation.

What do we need to know about drafting an innovation plan?

The TASB Legal Services' Tips for Plan Drafting and Implementation provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding developing legally compliant innovation plans.

How do we address specific exemptions?

The TASB Legal Services' Writing Plans for Specific Innovations discusses best practices for addressing popular innovations in plans and local policies.

What are other districts doing?

The Districts of Innovation Table is a searchable chart showing school districts that have adopted an innovation plan or are currently pursuing innovation status, including links to the proposed or final plans. If you have questions or additional information about the information in this chart, please contact TASB Legal Services at 800-580-5345 or legal@tasb.org.

Need help? 

In Districts of Innovation: Part I, two TASB attorneys discuss best practices for writing an innovation plan.





In Districts of Innovation: Part II, a TASB attorney and policy consultant provide guidance on developing local policies to implement your district's innovation plan.

For more information relating to Districts of Innovation, please contact TASB Legal Services at 800.580.5345 or e-mail your questions to legal@tasb.org.