PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Parents and teachers filled the Pflugerville Independent School District board room Thursday night to voice both concern and support as school board members consider becoming a District of Innovation.
The designation, created by the passage of HB 1842, gives traditional independent school districts a lot of the flexibility already available to Texas’ open-enrollment charter schools.
Districts seeking the distinction must come up with their own local innovation plan that can include innovative curriculum, instruction methods, provisions regarding community participation, campus governance and parent involvement. The plan can also include modifications to the school day or year, provisions regarding the district budget and sustainable program funding, accountability and assessment measures that exceed the requirements of state and federal law, and any other innovations prescribed by the board of trustees.
August Plock, a PfISD father, teacher and president of the Pflugerville Education Association says the district has talked about utilizing it for two reasons so far: starting the school year earlier, in mid-August versus late August, and hiring hard to find career tech teachers who are not certified teachers.
Plock and others are concerned about the unknown — what else a new superintendent or new school board members might try to modify such as larger class sizes or hiring teachers who are not certified outside of career tech courses.
“It’s kind of like the force from Star Wars, it can be used for good or it can be used for bad,” said Plock.
School board president Vernagene Mott said transparency is top priority.
“The core of this community has been the public schools, and we’ve always had high academic expectations,” said Mott. “And I think that will continue.”
The next step will be forming a committee to further explore the designation.
Pflugerville ISD’s public hearing comes four months after the Round Rock ISD school board voted unanimously in favor of the designation. The board received push-back from some of its teachers who said the plan lacks details about what the district will do moving forward with the exemptions allowed under the designation.
The following Central Texas school districts have been designated as Innovation Districts:
- Lake Travis
- Round Rock