Spacing Out In Louise

Louise school board members practice social distancing during their Monday night session. School districts are putting a high priority on the safety protocols.

The Louise ISD school board adopted a calendar for the 2020-2021 school year and accepted district officials’ plan for gaining a District of Innovation designation in a brief meeting Monday night.

After deliberating last month on the district’s calendar for the new school year, trustees voted unanimously to adopt the proposed model. The adopted calendar begins Aug. 19, a week earlier than the 2019-2020 calendar, and ends May 18, two days before the end of this school year.

Make up days and summer school days will be Feb. 15, April 1, May 19 through 28. Most school holidays will remain the same length as in the previous school year. Christmas break, however, will be from Dec. 18 to Jan. 1, which is three days longer. High school graduation is planned for May 21.

The school year is scheduled to last 163 student instructional days or 76,488 minutes with 187 teacher work days. On May 7, the Texas Education Agency released COVID-19 guidance for next school year’s calendar, including options to use a DOI calendar or a year-round calendar. TEA normally requires a minimum of 75,600 operational minutes, from the first to last school bell, during the school year, and will still require districts to meet this number in the fall. If districts miss instructional days transitioning to at-home schooling, they can apply for a Missed School Day waiver as the district did for the 2020 spring semester.

LISD officials drafted the DOI plan in February, before the coronavirus pandemic closed Texas schools in mid-March.

Trustees voted 4-0 – with Alfred Ochoa Jr., Amanda Cox and Chris Faas absent – to approve the district’s DOI plan.

A DOI designation will give the district more freedom with school calendars, elementary school class sizes and with required teacher certifications, according to the Texas Association of School Boards.

“The most important thing, in my opinion, is the (DOI is) going to give us some flexibility when hiring teachers,” Board President Linda Alderson said.

A common exemption sought by DOI concerning employee certifications, according to TASB, has been to allow experienced individuals without teaching certificates to teach in specific fields. Exceptions are English as a Second Language and special education teachers.

“If (someone) knows how to do mechanic work, or whatever, and you want to offer a mechanic class for kids, then we (can) name that person as the teacher,” Superintendent Garth Oliver said.

Other items on the agenda were delayed.

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