Despite failing to pass charter school legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly this year, education officials will announce details of the compromise Districts of Innovation bill this Friday.

The new regulations will allow local districts flexibility from some state laws controlling how students are educated if certain goals are met, mainly for low-achieving students.

Charter schools take management out of the local school board’s hands and give it to a group or management entity. The schools often implement creative or innovative programs that are outside of the traditional education curriculum.

That’s not happening in Kentucky, but the Districts of Innovation bill allows schools to look and feel like charter schools, said David Cook, KDE’s director of innovation and partner engagement.

“Let’s take schools that we already have and transform them into what looks like a charter school, but it is still part of the district and still answers to the local board of education and so forth,” he said.

School boards must want to be a district of innovation and must apply with an implementation plan. Local schools can vote in their individual councils to jump on board, said Cook.

“They create a plan for what they want to do, which could be completely changing their governing structure, going away from the SBDM structure that we have in most of our schools. It could be a whole bunch of other things,” he said.

The legislature still needs to finalize some parts of the new rules, but Cook said he expects districts to be able to apply early next year and implement their plans in the 2013-2014 school year.