Superintendent’s Blog v9
March 3, 2017
Happy Friday to everyone… It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted and I’m hoping everyone had a great spring break and got to spend a little time relaxing and doing something fun and worthwhile…
Many of you may have read in last week’s Frankston Citizen that, at the March meeting, our Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution to begin the process of becoming a Texas School District of Innovation. The resolution was the first step in the planning process that will allow our school district to exercise a greater degree of local autonomy to meet our unique needs as a small, rural school district.
To give you a little background, the 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1842, adding Chapter 12A to the Texas Education code, essentially giving traditional school districts many of the freedoms that are afforded charter schools by engaging in a process to become a “District of Innovation”.
We believe that a District of Innovation status will allow us the flexibility to build on our core strengths as a community. Those core strengths include a the value that our community places on the comprehensive educational experience for our children and an emphasis on our traditions, our history, and our unique identity as a rural Texas school district.
The work and planning that we hope to be doing over the next few months will be a reflection of those strengths and of our deep commitment to ensure that all of our children have the character, the tools, and the skills they need to be successful in life.
As a community, we cannot and will not be satisfied until each and every one of our students graduates from our school district, College and Career Ready… And the opportunities allowed under the District of Innovation status will give us the leverage we need to reach that goal.
This designation will allow us to develop a comprehensive plan of action that will guide our work over the next five years. We will be able to create curricula that aligns to the needs of our students, rather than the test driven, “one size fits all” approach that the bureaucrats in Austin have required in the past. We will also be able to design authentic, real world assessments that more accurately measure student learning and that will help us improve our instructional practice.
The status as a district of Innovation will also provide flexibility in how we are able to engage the community and increase parent involvement, not only in terms of numbers, but also in terms of diversity by creating more opportunities for participation and engagement. These flexibilities may also apply to district and school governance, innovative, goal driven budgeting and program funding… And a huge bonus will be our ability to create a school district calendar that is reflective of our local priorities and values, rather than those pushed down from the hotel and tourism lobby in Austin…
For the first time, we will be able to locally certify teachers who can provide our students with high quality instruction that comes out of professional experience and industry expertise. Just imagine the impact of having a journeyman electrician, or welder, or plumber, being able to teach a class that is based on our student interests and that provides a clear pathway to a well-paying career.
We have so many successful people in our community, retired and those with flexible hours, who would love the opportunity to teach our kids, but don’t, because it doesn’t make financial sense to go back to college just to meet some state requirement or to take college courses that don’t add any value to instructional effectiveness or to the development of student skills. As a Texas District of Innovation, we can truly meet the needs of more of our students and set them up for postsecondary success with the limited resources that we have available.
So, how do we make this happen? Actually, we already kicked the ball and it’s rolling downhill… Now that our school board has unanimously adopted the resolution to explore the possibility of engaging in the process, the next step is a public hearing, scheduled for Monday, April 17th, at 5:00 PM. I’m hoping that we will have a full board room as answer questions and rollout what we hope the planning component will look like.
Following the public hearing, I am optimistic that the board will approve our request to pursue the District of Innovation status. Contingent on Board approval of the process, they will appoint an Innovation Committee to facilitate plan development. The Innovation Committee will be comprised of diverse leaders representing a cross-section of Frankston ISD’s various stakeholders, including principals, parents, business and community members, and district administrators.
The timeline for planning and approval should wrap up late next fall, allowing for Board action in January. This timeline will allow us to be deliberate in our planning for the 2018-2019 school year and ensure that we have the time and resources we need to get it right, in terms of how we execute on the opportunities provided by the District of Innovation framework.
As with all initiatives, a broad and diverse scope of input and perspective is essential to creating a high quality District of Innovation plan. I hope that all of you will engage in the process in a way that makes sense to you, given your values, priorities, and availability. Please reach out to me, or any member of the Frankston ISD Team, to share your ideas, to ask questions, or even to offer your support for creating the model district that others look to as an example of what all school districts hope to become.
Have a great week and as always, I’ll leave you with some words to think about… Here are a couple from an extraordinary leader… I hope the words resonate as much with you, as they did with me…
The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.
The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert.