Changes to the Van Alstyne Independent School District were discussed at the regularly scheduled Van Alstyne Independent School District Board Meeting on Dec. 12. Present at the meeting were community members who served on the District of Innovation committee. A motion to approve the changes was unanimously approved.


Four members of the committee, which is comprised of 23 local citizens, discussed their plan to improve ISD education along with team leader and assistant superintendent David Brown.


The committee presentation stated the goal of the District of Innovation is to utilize “local control on the best ways to educate the children” by proposing a number of novel stipulations that at times conflict with Texas Education Code requirements.


Approved changes include the ISD requesting to start the school year on a day of their choosing, instead of following state law that requires the school year to begin on the fourth Monday in August. Brown said this will allow the ISD to balance semester days better in order to allow for more flexibility in the student calendars.


Other issues the District of Innovation discussed amending is the law that full time employees can’t be hired, despite their experience, if they are not certified by the TEA.


”The flexibility to hire people who have industry experience but not a teaching certification (will help the district to) do more classes with less people,” Brown said.


This change will help alleviate the challenge posed by the steadily increasing student body.


The entire plan will span five years, starting in the 2017-2018 school year and will conclude in 2021-2022. Superintendent. John Spies noted to those in attendance that elements apart from the ones addressed at the meeting cannot be added, though parts can be adjusted and removed.


Spies explained the reason why local control hasn’t always been a smooth process is because of conflicts of interests between teachers, administrators, and the school board. However, the VA plan requires trust and cooperation between these separate sectors, which is why it is anticipated to be a success, he said.


Spies emphasized the significance of local control, as opposed to state control, and said it requires cooperation of parents, teachers, and the school board, which is necessary to build a happy school where students can thrive socially and academically. A diversity of opinions also ensures against the risk of decision-making bias.


The ultimate goal is to provide a premier education for all students, Brown said.


“(It makes) the job easier for the teachers to benefit the kids,” he said.