San Antonio Independent School District trustees asked state education officials Monday night to approve four new class offerings for the 2020-21 school year: court reporting and user experience, or UX.

The court reporting classes would be offered at Fox Tech High School while students at CAST Tech High School would be able to take two user experience courses.

State education officials allow districts to offer “innovative courses,” or classes that teach students skills and information not included in state-approved curriculum. More than 100 of these classes are approved for the 2019-20 school year at public schools across Texas, including advanced floral design, oil and gas production, fundamentals of real estate, and movement for the actor.

On Monday night, SAISD trustees voted unanimously to ask the State to approve four new classes: foundations of court reporting at Fox Tech, methods of UX at CAST Tech, practicum in UX at CAST Tech, and classes for leadership officers training corps at the district’s middle schools.

SAISD officials expect the State Board of Education to vote on the proposed courses sometime this spring.

“Once we submit the courses [between now and January] we go through a negotiation process with [the State],” said Johnny Vahalik, SAISD’s senior executive director for college, career, and military readiness. “It is very hard to get innovative courses approved.”

Should SAISD’s courses not be approved, the district will have to offer existing classes that might not serve the same purpose.

Last year, SAISD received State approval to offer a fundamental user experience class at CAST Tech high school, Vahalik said. UX courses teach students how to design a website or application with the future user in mind.

On Monday night, San Antonio ISD’s board also voted to offer more than 40 such innovative courses that have already received state approval next school year.

In the past, SBOE members have used innovative courses as the starting point in creating other state-approved courses. Most recently, the State modeled a state-approved Mexican American Studies course on an innovative class being taught in Houston ISD.

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State Board of Education members indicated last month they are likely to do the same for an African American Studies course based on a Dallas ISD offering. SAISD plans to offer the course next fall.

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.