Denton ISD might have some big changes in the coming years following a unanimous vote by its school board. Board member Jim Alexander was not in attendance. 

Board members voted Tuesday night to amend district policy, allowing administrators and board members to continue investigating partnership options opened up when Senate Bill 1882 became law in 2017.

This is only the next step in a long process that might never bring a Texas Partnership through the law to the school district.

“I was one of those that had lots of questions,” said board member Doug Chadwick. “I still do, but I think that taking this step of approving what’s presented tonight is the right thing to do so that we can continue discussion.”

The policy amendment was considered during a special session of the school board on Thursday, but Mia Price, board president, voiced concern that citizens hadn’t been given the chance to speak at an open forum.

Her colleagues agreed unanimously to postpone the decision until the regular meeting Tuesday evening.

Superintendent Jamie Wilson and Area Superintendent Daniel Lopez, made clear what the district was not looking at.

“We are not looking at an open-enrollment charter,” Lopez said.

“The word ‘charters’ is a scary word for all of us,” Chadwick said.

Districts across the state have become early adopters of the law with varying degrees of success and control.

Based upon the text of the law, campuses cannot be sanctioned for low performance during the first two years of a partnership. That means districts temporarily could avoid penalties for low-performing schools by entering into a Texas Partnership.

Districts also receive increased funding for students enrolled in a partnership program.

Despite these potentially duplicitous uses, Denton school board members urged they were not interested in using the law to avoid penalties, or solely to receive additional funding.

While the law provides an enormous amount of flexibility for campus administrators and school boards, Denton board members seemed uninterested, even fearful, of many of its implications.

Price explained board members must be, “very cautious and deliberate about how we approach this.”

For that reason, board members amended a policy specifically intended to narrow the law’s impact for themselves, as well as future Denton school boards.

Administrators now have a lengthy set of guidelines for reviewing applications, overseeing partner outcomes, intervening with partner policies or inadequacies and much more.

Based upon the guidelines set forth, board members have given their district the ability to deal with partnered campuses similarly to how they might with regular district campuses.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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