Hundreds of public school districts across Texas are using a District of Innovation plan.
The law, passed in 2015, allows school districts to claim exemptions from requirements like teacher certification, class sizes and school start dates.
Several districts across Central Texas with innovation plans have added a plan to exempt them from teacher certification. Many of the districts use the exemption for Career/Technical Education courses so industry experts can teach students.
"You want to give your students the best that you can give them without lowering your standards," Elaine Botello, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources for Waco ISD, said. "We want to hire teachers who have the right certification. It's hard to recruit sometimes and find someone who meets the requirement."
Waco ISD currently has two teachers who fall under the district of innovation exemption.
Bobby Carpenter is the Construction Technology Instructor for Waco ISD's GWAMA program. He taught history and coached for 15 years before he left the school district to pursue a career in construction.
"Mainly doing remodels, built some speck homes, managed properties," Carpenter explained.
After five years of working in construction, he went back to teach. Now he's teaching construction for Waco ISD's GWAMA program.
"It's really a win, win for us because we have a teacher who has a pedagogy, may have certification in another content area but at the same time has the work experience outside of the school district to bring that skill in and use it all together and provide it to our students," Botello said.
"This is as or more rewarding that coaching was. It's a lot of fun," Carpenter said.
Waco ISD requires any uncertified teacher who is in a teaching position for more than one school year to obtain the appropriate certification.
That's something the Association of Texas Professional Educators stands behind.
"We like to see the districts putting in place safe guards to ensure that even if they put someone into a position on more of an emergency basis they will at the same time take the steps needed to get that person certified," Jennifer Canaday, Governmental Relations Director for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, said.
Here are the school districts across Central Texas that are current innovation districts:
- Axtell ISD
- Belton ISD
- China Spring ISD
- Connally ISD
- Copperas Cove ISD
- Hillsboro ISD
- La Vega ISD
- Lampasas ISD
- Lorena ISD
- Mart ISD
- McGregor ISD
- Mexia ISD
- Midway ISD
- Moody ISD
- Navarro ISD
- Rockdale ISD
- Rogers ISD
- San Saba ISD
- Teague ISD
- Waco ISD
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