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GISD Seeks to Become District of Innovation


By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – When the Grapeland ISD Board of Trustees convenes its monthly meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m., the school board members will be asked to consider giving their approval to a “District of Innovation” resolution.

“Becoming a District of Innovation will give Grapeland ISD more local control and allows the district more flexibility to implement programs and procedures that best fit the needs of our students, staff, parents and community,” GISD Superintendent Gregg Spivey said when asked what that means for the district.

He added it would give GISD more local control over matters such as the school year start date, certification flexibility, class size ratio and student attendance. In essence, it would basically give GISD some of the same allowances charter schools receive, Spivey explained.

In addition, the superintendent said there will be an opportunity for the public to provide any input they feel would help the GISD board in making their decision.

According to the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB), becoming a District of Innovation has several benefits.

Among the benefits listed by TASB are:

  • 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 percent attendance rule; class-size ratios; site-based decision-making processes; certain student discipline provisions; use of planning and preparation periods; and teacher appraisal requirements.

Also on the agenda for the Valentine’s Night meeting is a discussion on the elementary building project.

Since the last bond initiative was defeated by less than 50 votes during the May 2016 elections, the GISD board has been retooling the proposed bond and deliberating the possibility of calling for a second bond election to finance the construction of a new elementary school.

The 2016 bond was in the amount of $9.6 million while the preliminary discussions on the retooled bond have lowered the number to a range between $7.4 and $7.9 million.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.