Board of Trustees adopts District of Innovation plan


The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District will enter the 2016-2017 school year with a plan unlike any other in its history.

On July 26, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved to carry out the District of Innovation designation over the next five years, bringing exciting opportunities for the HCISD community.

“With thorough collaboration, discussion, and evaluation, we will now be designated as a District of Innovation,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “We want to maximize opportunities for our students and the new designation gives us the flexibility to do so. I commend our board for their relentless commitment to providing educational excellence for our students.”

Last year, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1842, which provides public school districts the opportunity to seek designation as a District of Innovation giving districts more local control.

HCISD Board of Trustees adopted a resolution to begin the process towards becoming a District of Innovation during the month of May. Consequently, the HCISD Strategic Planning Committee convened with parents and community members to review and revised a plan that would align with the goals of district’s Strategic Plan.

In its ongoing efforts to meet the needs of all students, the district will bring innovation to dual enrollment programs through a flexible calendar year. This adjustment will play a significant role in ensuring students have opportunities to earn college credit and experience internship programs.

Early College High School will be the first school to exercise the benefit of a flexible calendar, with additional campuses under consideration for the 2017-2018 school year.

The ECHS calendar will be aligned to the college schedule – ending its fall semester on December 9 and its spring semester on May 19. The modification applies strictly to students, as teachers will continue to fulfill their 187-day calendar year. Teachers will use this additional time to provide focused instruction to students showing academic need.

On occasion, after the school year is underway, schools are faced with the task of applying for a class size exemption because some classes exceed the 22:1 ratio. The adopted plan will minimize disruption of students and teacher assignments after everyone has already settled into their assigned classes. This additional flexibility will also minimize any adverse effect to students and will allow them to remain with their teacher when applicable. Undoubtedly, the district’s goal is to maintain the 22:1 ratio in grades Pre-K-4.

Through the District of Innovation Plan, the district will also expand how it hires world-class educators. HCISD will begin issuing school district teaching permits to individuals not holding a teaching certificate, but who have demonstrated expertise to teach based on determined set criteria. The focus is currently on providing faculty for academic and non-academic CTE courses. However, in the future, the district may choose to exercise this option in other courses.

“The Strategic Planning Committee will continue to analyze the rollout to ensure we are meeting the needs of our students, staff, and community,” said Dr. Cavazos.

For more information on HCISD’s District of Innovation plan, click here.

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