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What is a District of Innovation?

The 84th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1842 in the Spring of 2015, providing public school districts the opportunity to become a District of Innovation and obtain more local control.  The designation as a District of Innovation provides the district an opportunity to be exempt from certain sections of the Texas Education Code (TEC) that inhibit the goals of the district as outlined in the locally adopted Innovation Plan.  Potential benefits of becoming a District of Innovation include:

  • 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 certain mandates.

How are DOI’s different?

About 80% of traditional Texas public school districts now have a District of Innovation certification which gives them an option to exempt themselves from certain state laws. The most popular exemptions that are used involve the school calendar, disciplinary provisions, and student attendance.

DOIs can also hire educators for hard-to-fill positions. The added flexibility allows the district to provide exciting project-based programs that might not otherwise be offered. One example of the benefits of a District of Innovation is allowing key industry experts with a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge in a specific area, such as welding, construction, culinary arts, etc. to come into the classroom and enrich our curriculums. Without District of Innovation status, non-teacher-certified professionals are not allowed to teach even though they may have decades of experience in their field. Educators would still be subject to background checks, continued training, and on-the-job certification achievement. This type of flexibility and choice allows the school to meet the needs of its students while staying in compliance with the state’s educational requirements for graduation.

SFDRCISD’s Original Innovation Plan

SFDRCISD's District of Innovation 2023-2028 Board Approved June 29, 2023

On Monday, March 26, 2018, the San Felipe Del Rio CISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the first District of Innovation Plan. The Plan best supported the District’s shared beliefs, visions and goals for the District at the time, and identified exemptions from the following statues:

  • TEC §25.0811a. First Day of Instruction
  • TEC §21.003 (a). Certification Required

An exemption from §25.0811a. First Day of Instruction gave SFDRCISD the flexibility to change the required school start date from 4th Monday in August to the 2nd Monday in August. The exemption from TEC §21.003 allowed the district the flexibility to consider workforce professionals to teach CTE courses specifically within the Trades and Industry Certificates, Health Science Certificates and Family & Consumer Science Certificates for which a traditionally, certified candidate is not available. The five-year plan ended in March 2023.

Original Innovation Plan (2019-2023)


A New District of Innovation Plan

On May 10, 2023, the San Felipe Del Rio CISD Board of Trustees (Board) adopted a resolution to re-initiate the process of becoming a District of Innovation. On May 15, 2023, the Board held a public hearing on the subject and on this same day appointed a District Advisory Committee (DAC) comprised of parents, teachers and community representatives.

The proposed 2023-2028 District of Innovation Plan continues to support the Districts’ Beliefs, Vision, Mission and prioritizes exemptions that will provide opportunities for excelling in student performance and results-driven accountability. The newly proposed plan seeks the following exemptions:

  • TEC §25.0811a. First Day of Instruction
  • TEC §21.003 (a). Certification Required
  • TEC §37.0012 Designation of Campus Behavior Coordinator

Proposed Innovation Plan (2023-2028)

SFDRCISD's District of Innovation 2023-2028 Board Approved June 29, 2023