HISD board votes to become a ‘district of innovation,’ plans to extend number of school days

HOUSTON – The Houston Independent School District board of managers voted unanimously on Thursday night to approve a resolution to begin the process of becoming a “district of innovation.”

According to the superintendent’s office, the new strategy would allow the district to better adapt its education programs and schedules to meet the needs of students and families.

This could also potentially impact the number of days children attend school.

Superintendent Mike Miles said this designation would allow the district to add more instruction days which would take school days to 180 or 185 instead of the current 172.

According to the agenda item, the designation would allow HISD to compete for exceptional teaching talent and modify the academic calendar to ensure all students get the high-quality instruction time they need to read and write on grade level every academic year.

Miles spoke about the decision ahead of the vote.

“When you build a calendar, the first (thing) you look at is how many student-teacher contact days do you need, that’s the first,” Miles said. “It’s pretty clear across the country with educators who try to raise the quality of instruction, kids need more days of instruction, especially struggling campuses. And the next question is how many days is that? And that varies depending on the area, anywhere from 180 to 185 student contact days. The current calendar has 172, and that is not a good thing for kids. We need to raise that.”

According to the TEA website, the designation could also give the district flexibility in these areas and allow HISD exemptions on teacher certifications, contacts, and school calendars.

There are currently more than 960 school districts in the state of Texas with this designation, according to TEA, including Fort Bend ISD, Alief, Magnolia, and Friendswood.

Miles said this is just the first step in the process. The next thing that will happen is that there will be a public hearing on whether the district should move forward with the innovation plan.

The hearing must take place within the next thirty days.

About the Authors:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.

Emmy-winning journalist. Inquisitive. Sparkle enthusiast. Coffee-fueled, with a dash of sass.