Board takes next step in District of Innovation pursuit

The Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees continued to pave the groundwork for the district’s future at Monday night’s regularly scheduled board meeting, taking yet another step forward in their pursuit of a District of Innovation designation from the state.

Discussion of potentially seeking the DOI designation began back in October with Superintendent Scott Caloss outlining the possible benefits of such a pursuit. Caloss explained at the time that districts designated as a DOI by the state are afforded more flexibility in how they can conduct school business, including more control on a school district’s start date and local certification of educators among others.

The topic resurfaced during the November board meeting with Caloss once again reiterating that the “flexibility” it would provide could prove to be a huge boon to the district, and that other local districts such as Canton, Quinlan, Sunnyvale and Van have all sought and gained the DOI designations in the past. Board members followed Caloss’ presentation by unanimously approving the resolution to pursue the designation.

Caloss provided an update on the progress made to the board on Monday night, explaining that several committee meetings have been held regarding the DOI pursuit, and that the next phase would be posting the committees’ approved plan on the school website for 30 days (the plan can be found by visiting in clicking on “DOI Plan 002” under the important updates tab) and sending a copy of the plan to the education commissioner.

Following the completion of those two steps, the plan will come back before the board for approval.

Another area of focus for the board at the December board meeting was holding a public hearing on the recent Texas Education Agency release of the district’s finalized 2016-’17 Texas Academic Performance Report.

Assistant Superintendent Barbie McMath explained that the board had discussed preliminary 2016-’17 TAPR results at previous board meetings, noting that the district had already begun the process to “put things in place to address areas of concern.” McMath added that “we still have work to do but we’re beginning to see the fruits of that labor.”

Board member Jeff Etheridge praised the efforts of teachers and administrators in improving scores overall, citing a rise in english scores. “I'm very impressed with the english scores. When my sons were freshman the English I scores were horrible. I'm just being honest. We've made a 12 point increase from last year to this year. I can't thank all the teachers enough for what you guys have done to address that. I know that was a board concern a couple years ago. You can see that whatever you guys are doing is working.” 

McMath explained, “We've still got work to do…I think that we're beginning to see some of the fruits of that labor.”

In other business:

-The board recognized junior high staff members Mischeal Rowdon, Beth Ross, the maintenance staff, members of the National Junior Honor Society, members of the state qualifying Tiger tennis team and Frank Corry.

-The board unanimously approved WPMS UIL academic stipends and Texas Association of School Board Update 109.

-The next board meeting is scheduled to take place Jan. 22.