• Denton ISD DOI Colloquy: Tuesday, February 21, 2017
    For the first time since the adoption of the Denton ISD District of Innovation (DOI) Plan, committee members met to discuss the progress of the plan and to prioritize the internal barriers identified during the planning process.   

    Linking back to the second DOI colloquy, members were reminded the role of the membership was “to identify barriers to student achievement and local control;” and “while the DOI Committee will assist administrators in identifying barriers, appropriate district staff will be  assigned to craft solutions to overcome the identified barriers.” After meeting with Executive Cabinet members, various administrators were tasked with leading and consulting on the assigned topic(s) identified in the DISD DOI Plan. Since roles were recently assigned, there is no progress to report at this time. It was noted administrators would have to consider board policy and possible rewrites of current policy. Additionally, admins must honor any federal and/or state mandates than cannot be excised (such as Title I and State Comp Ed funding guidelines). Since the contents of the plan emphasize local control, the idea is to report on these matters directly to the school board who is responsible for district oversight including plan and/or policy matters.

    In addition to the external barriers identified in the DISD DOI Plan, a number of internal barriers – issues not requiring exemption from law – were articulated in the online spreadsheet used by DOI reps to catalog barriers. A list of all of the internal barriers was provided to members during the DOI colloquy on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Some of the barriers pinpointed by committee reps and/or their constituents were struck from the list as Chapter 12A, Districts of Innovation law in the Texas Education Code limits the permissible exemptions in §12A.004 (such as Student Success Initiative (SSI) laws). Committee members prioritized the list using the nominal group technique assigning a point value of 5 points for the most important [internal] barrier to be addressed by Denton ISD, 3 points for the second most important, and 1 point for the third most important. After tallying members’ point sheets, the following areas rose far above the rest. With 44 points, “insufficient, protected time for instructional planning,” was rated as the number one priority to be addressed by Denton ISD. A “9 week grading periods in elementary” was a close second with 41 points; and “lack of teacher collaboration and vertical alignment from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school” ranked third lagging behind at 31 points. With 28 points, the “need for K-2 math intervention” was a close fourth. No other barrier was rated higher than the teens with “inadequate or lost recess” garnering 16 points as did the need for a “full-time reading interventionist position on each elementary campus” with “bilingual dyslexia services” and a “class [size] cap of 24:1 in fifth grade” as the only other barriers rated in the teens with 15 points.

    Members discussed the ins and outs of the highest rated barriers. A few, such as the “need for K-2 math intervention, a full-time reading interventionist on each elementary campus, bilingual dyslexia services,” and a “class [size] cap of 24:1 in fifth grade” require funding. The site, Taxparency Texas, and the contents of the site including the video, “Do you know where your property taxes go?” was discussed as it was included in the Educational Improvement Council (EIC) meeting held the day prior. The site notes despite the fact the State of Texas has benefitted $4.25 billion from rising school property values, “the state reduced its contribution to education” and “used its general fund on other state obligations” including spending “$2.6 billion to businesses for tax relief.” Additionally, “since 2008, the State’s level of funding per student has decreased $339 per student (when adjusting for enrollment growth) and $795 per student (when adjusted for enrollment growth and inflation);” and “the State’s share of funding education from All Funds has decreased from 44.9% in 2008 to 38.4% in 2017 while local property tax dollars to fund public education have increased from 44.8% in 2008 to 55.1% in 2017.” These hidden figures directly impact the funding necessary to support the internal barriers requiring additional funding. 

    From here, internal discussions on the top three internal barriers will take place amongst Denton ISD leadership.