The Hawk Eye

LISD becomes District of Innovation

Distinction will allow calendar flexibility, other privileges

Because+LISD+did+not+become+a+DOI+sooner%2C+the+district+settled+for+this+calendar.
Because LISD did not become a DOI sooner, the district settled for this calendar.

Because LISD did not become a DOI sooner, the district settled for this calendar.

Photo by Yasmin

Photo by Yasmin

Because LISD did not become a DOI sooner, the district settled for this calendar.

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Lewisville Independent School District will have more flexibility regarding the school schedule next year after becoming a District of Innovation in May.

Becoming a DOI allows the district to have more leeway in the way it operates and be exempt from parts of the Texas Education Code, the laws mandating public education in Texas. One of the perks of being a DOI is having the freedom to choose any starting and ending dates for the district’s calendar.

“[DOIs] allow you to operate, in a sense, like a charter school,” principal Scot Finch said. “What prevented us from having a calendar that started earlier this year, was that the school board hadn’t really talked about being a DOI.”

Other advantages include freedom to end the 90 percent attendance rule, choose the length of the school day, class size and teacher contracts.

Calendars are one of the more publicly noticeable aspects of becoming a DOI, but the relative importance of each piece really depends on the local school district,” chief schools officer Dr. Joseph Coburn said. “So no single reason is more important than another.”

To be eligible for becoming a DOI a district must have a satisfactory academic rating. The process begins with a resolution from the Board of Trustees. Then, a committee must be formed and an innovation plan must be created. Finally, there must be a two out of three majority vote from the board to approve the plan and become a DOI.

Next year, the district will have the opportunity to begin school earlier and evade the state law, which compels Texas schools to begin on or after the fourth Monday of August, implementing their title as a DOI.

We would like to get [a calendar] where we finish the first 18 weeks before Christmas and then we start the new 18 weeks when we come back from Christmas break,” Finch said. “We like that division because we think it hurts our students to go on a two week break, come back for a week and then take [final exams] the second week [they’re] back.”

Many other districts in the area are already DOIs and started school earlier than LISD. This has caused some sports and clubs to begin competing before school started.

“A lot of our groups are already competing before school even started,” Finch said. “Which is really strange that you’d be playing games like volleyball. They probably played 20 to 30 games before school even started. It’s kind of hard to have people come watch you since a lot of the fans are students who aren’t back in school.”

Coburn said the calendar could be subject to change over the next few years.

The goal is to create a calendar that best serves the interests of our students, staff, and community,” Coburn said. “While no calendar is ever perfect, we try hard to build a calendar that works for all.”

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