Conexión Del Rio/ SFDRCISD, PIO, Rene Luna, contributor

DEL RIO – The San Felipe Del Rio CISD Board of Trustees has completed the second phase in the process towards becoming a District of Innovation. During Monday’s regular meeting, the SFDRCISD Board of Trustees held a public hearing and recapped the District of Innovation process; a concept passed into law by the 84th Legislature (HB1842), which provides opportunities to school districts to access flexibilities typically offered only to open enrollment charter schools. The Board later approved the appointment of the SFDRCISD District of Innovation Advisory Committee, who will be tasked to review, recommend and develop a local education plan which would allow SFDRCISD to access exemptions from certain requirements of state law. 

The SFDRCISD District of Innovation Advisory Committee will begin meeting at the start of the new year in January and February. When the plan is complete, the advisory committee will post the plan on the District’s website for 30 days, and will notify the Commissioner of Education of the SFDRCISD Board’s intent to vote on the Innovation Plan. The advisory committee will then reconvene in early March and vote to approve the plan. The plan must be approved by the committee with a majority vote. The approved plan is then presented to the Board of Trustees in a subsequent meeting for final approval and consent by a two thirds majority. Upon board approval, the district becomes a District of Innovation and may begin operating in accordance with the local innovation plan, exempt from the identified provisions of the Education Code. 

Some permissible exemptions from state law that the District of Innovation Advisory Committee may consider include an exemption from the required school start date (state law requires school to start on the 4th Monday in August); the school end date (not earlier than May 15th) and minimum minutes of instruction. While there are other exemptions which may be considered, the District is primarily interested in providing a balanced school calendar that will allow the first semester of instruction to be completed by December; and the flexibility to have additional staff development days. 

The SFDRCISD District of Innovation Advisory Committee members are Yadira Hernandez, secondary teacher at Del Rio Middle School; Veronica Oyama, elementary teacher at Ruben Chavira Elementary; Shannalea Taylor, community representative – The Bank & Trust; Debbie Salinas, secondary teacher at Del Rio Freshman School; Mari Rodriguez, elementary teacher at Buena Vista Elementary; Charles Garabedian, community representative – Southwest Texas Junior College; Raquel Rodriguez, community representative – Val Verde Regional Medical Center; Lori Esparza, secondary teacher at Del Rio Middle School; Jonna Dewitt, elementary teacher at Dr. Lonnie Green Elementary; Brenda Campos, elementary teacher at North Heights Elementary; Sara Moreno, secondary teacher at Blended Academy; Chris Kuechmann, retired librarian – Val Verde County;  Stacy-Anne Gallegos, secondary teacher at Del Rio Middle School; Melinda Brijalba, elementary teacher at Irene C. Cardwell Elementary; Lupe Buenrostro, community and parent representative; Eloisa Jimenez, secondary teacher at San Felipe Memorial Middle School; Cindy Martinez, elementary teacher at Ruben Chavira Elementary; David Velky, secondary teacher at San Felipe Memorial Middle School; and Amanda Cienega, elementary teacher at Lamar Elementary.