Last week, an article in the Edinburg Review titled, “ATTENTION EDINBURG: Are You Aware of DOI?” addressed a State of Texas public school district initiative called the District of Innovation Program, commonly referred to as DOI.  The District of Innovation Plan allows school districts to submit structured and detailed plans to the Texas Education Agency requesting flexibility with specific events and/or activities.  Each school district must clarify in the District of Innovation Plan the definitive areas that will be addressed.   

The Edinburg CISD is collaboratively developing a District of Innovation Plan and seeking ONLY to modify the calendar start date for the 2017-2018 school year.

By State law, public school districts are required to begin classes for the 2017-2018 school year on Monday, August 28, 2017.  This late start date creates scheduling conflicts for school programs, such as fine arts, athletics, UIL events, 2018 summer school and summer programs, enrollment for graduating seniors and staff in college summer school courses, etc.  The only option for moving the start date for the 2017-2018 school year is to apply for the District of Innovation Program.

Since the school district administration was not contacted by the writer to confirm facts, below are the specific items listed in the previously mentioned article for clarification:

1. “22:1 student-to-teacher ratio for grades K-4: As a DOI, districts can exempt this law without notifying parents that their child's K-4-grade class is over 22.”

The Edinburg CISD is not applying for this exemption in the District of Innovation Plan.

2. “School calendar: Current Texas law prohibits school districts from starting school before the fourth Monday of August. For the 2017-2018 school year, that means August 28.”

This is the ONLY exemption for which the Edinburg CISD is applying.

3. “Teacher benefits: Through a DOI, districts can take away a teacher's right to a 30-minute duty-free lunch and their right to 450 minutes in a two-week period for planning. Districts can also 'locally certify' (Does anyone know what this truly means?) teachers rather than requiring them to obtain a Texas teaching certificate.”

The Edinburg CISD is not applying for this exemption in the District of Innovation Plan.

4. According to Chris Ardis, “(I would like to know if ECISD board members requested copies of all of the emails Dr. Gutierrez received in response to this email?)”

As noted at a previous board meeting, I do not recall receiving email responses regarding DOI.

5. “There was also assigned seating, and the ECISD teachers I met with said some teachers would not speak up for fear of retaliation from their administrators.”

All Edinburg CISD teachers and staff present were encouraged and provided with the opportunity to speak on behalf of themselves, campus, and/or teacher organization.  The dialogue and request for feedback was requested throughout the evening. 

6. “Also keep in mind that school board elections occur every two years. And keep in mind that administrators come and administrators go. So how binding is that assurance clause?”

The Edinburg CISD collaborated with local teacher association representatives to include a clause clarifying that the Edinburg CISD District of Innovation Plan would not have any of the other options outlined in Section 12A.004 of the Texas Education Code.  By Texas law, any decisions to change the plan within the five years would require ECISD to start the DOI process over again.

7. “Edinburg: Are you paying attention? Get informed and be heard. Let your district's SBDM team and your school board members know where you stand.”

The Edinburg CISD welcomes feedback from all staff.  Members of the District-wide committee voted overwhelmingly on February 9, 2017 to support moving forward with the development of the plan voting 52-15 in favor of the initiative.

Our work with the Edinburg CISD District of Innovation Plan has been transparent, informative, and inclusive of all stakeholders.  Our goal is to provide our students, staff, and families with a school calendar that benefits everyone for the next school year.

For more information on the Edinburg CISD District of Innovation Plan, please feel free to contact the Edinburg CISD Administration or me,               

Dr. René Gutiérrez, ECISD Superintendent