A total of 17 Kentucky public school districts have submitted applications to the Kentucky Department of Education to become Districts of Innovation.

The Districts of Innovation legislation, House Bill 37 (2012) — codified as KRS 156.108 and 160.107, provides Kentucky public school districts the opportunity to apply for an exemption from certain administrative regulations and statutory provisions in an effort to improve student learning. Local board policy may also be waived for a District of Innovation.

By “re-thinking” what a school might look like, districts will be able to redesign teaching and learning using innovative strategies such as competency-based learning, creating multiple pathways to graduation, and a modified school schedule in an effort to engage and motivate more students, and increase the numbers of those who are college- and career-ready.

During May, a cross-agency team comprised of staff from the Kentucky Department of Education, Education Professional Standards Board and the Appalachia Regional Comprehensive Center (ARCC), will review applications using a rigorous process in which each application will be evaluated against a scoring rubric. Among other requirements, applications had to include an evaluation model for monitoring the effects of plans on student learning, graduation rates and college- and career-readiness.

Districts submitting applications are:

  • Cloverport Independent
  • Danville Independent
  • Eminence Independent
  • Fayette County
  • Gallatin County
  • Jackson Independent
  • Jefferson County
  • Jessamine County
  • Kenton County
  • Mason County
  • McCracken County
  • Montgomery County
  • Owensboro Independent
  • Owsley County
  • Taylor County
  • Trigg County
  • Woodford County

Once the evaluation process is complete, the review team will recommend to the Kentucky Board of Education, a list of finalists for consideration. The board will select the Districts of Innovation at its regular meeting on June 5. The successful districts could start implementation of their plans as early as the 2013-14 school year.

The initial term of the District of Innovation designation is for five years. After five years, the district’s status can be renewed in five-year increments, or revoked based on processes defined in the administrative regulation.