Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Districts of Innovation

House Bill 1842 was passed by the 84th Legislature, legislation that, according to James B. Crow, Executive Director of the Texas Association of School Boards, “gives school districts most of the flexibilities available to open enrollment charter schools”.  In an article published in the December, 2015 Texas Lone Star, he highlights the opportunity that locally elected boards now potentially have in many areas, including an opportunity to address the topic of unfunded mandates, long a topic of discussion among Texas school board trustees.  

The article can be found by clicking here.  In addition, a link to a Q&A prepared by TASB Legal can be found by clicking on this link.

This legislation does not waive a district’s obligations relating to academic and financial accountability, nor does it change the roles of trustees and superintendents.  What it does potentially do, and I say potentially since specific rules are still to be released by the commissioner of education, is to create opportunities in several areas, including:
·            Site based decision making;
·            Uniform school start date;
·            Class size caps; and
·            Required minutes of instruction time
The bottom line is that this legislation brings about the opportunity for greater local control, again a key element of the advocacy efforts of the more than 7000 school board trustees in the State of Texas.  

As noted in a prior blog following my discussion with Commissioner Morath, his intent is to focus extensively on outcomes, not the process to achieve these outcomes.  HB 1842 is all about process.  It is incumbent upon trustees to learn more about HB 1842 and how the increased flexibility can contribute to increased student opportunities.  In short, it provides greater flexibility for the locally elected board of trustees to Make Education a Priority.

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