Districts of Innovation

What is a District of Innovation?

The District of Innovation concept, passed in 2015, gives traditional independent school districts most of the flexibility 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 flexibility best suits 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 (pdf) for an overview.
  2. Review the steps to become a District of Innovation
  3. Modify the Sample Resolution (docx) for your board to adopt. This is the first step toward becoming a District of Innovation.
  4. Renew your District of Innovation Plan (pdf) before it expires.

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

The TASB Legal Services' Districts of Innovation: Tips for Plan Drafting and Implementation (pdf) provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding developing legally compliant innovation plans.

How do we address specific exemptions?

The TASB Legal Services' Districts of Innovation: Policy Guidance for After the Plan discusses best practices for addressing popular innovations in plans and local policies.

TASB Legal Service and TASB Policy Service collaborated on this Districts of Innovation: After the Plan Power Point presentation to offer guidance on implementing specific innovations into local policy.

What are other districts doing?

The Texas Education Agency maintains a chart fo school districts that have adopted an innovation plan. The District of Innovation chart includes links to the specific plans.

Need help?

If you have questions about information on this website, please contact TASB Legal Services at 800.580.5345 or legal@tasb.org.

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.