Board approves talks with potential charter partners

Longview Independent School District trustees approved beginning negotiations with four non-profit organizations, during a special-called meeting Wednesday, Jan. 29th. 

Board OKs talks with potential charter partners

Wed Jan 29, 2020


Longview Independent School District trustees approved beginning talks with four non-profit organizations, during a special-called meeting Wednesday, Jan. 29th.

Board members unanimously authorized Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox to begin negotiations and possibly sign performance contracts with Texas Council for International Studies (TCIS), Lions Pride (Texas A&M-Commerce), Longview LEAP (City of Longview), and the International Center for Academics & Technology (iCAT).

If approved by district trustees at a future date, Longview ISD will apply for benefits through Senate Bill 1882 that provides extra funding to traditional public school districts that contract with outside entities such as charter networks, non-profits, and universities to partner with their schools to help boost student achievement. 

LISD Chief Innovation Officer Dr. James Coleman said the Texas Education Agency must first approve the arrangements, including the proposed contracts between the partners, in order for district students and staff to receive extra benefits.

"But even if approved by the TEA, and later by our board, Longview ISD students and staff will notice very little difference in the way of day-to-day operations as a result of the proposed partnerships," Coleman said. "Many of the shifts that may occur will involve details behind the scenes, mostly on an administrative level." 

“However, what teachers and students will notice,” Coleman explained, “is that the resources that have been desired in the past will actually be in the hands of teachers and students to improve the engagement of the instruction in the classroom.” 

“Campuses will also notice that they have more ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of their students,” he said. “One of the goals of the non-profit partnerships is to provide those who deal most directly with the students more autonomy to make decisions that are most beneficial for the students in their care.” 

Passed in 2017 by the 85th Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 1882 creates new incentives for traditional public schools to partner with outside entities to improve student outcomes.

Longview ISD received four applications for partners to run possible charter schools by the Jan. 6th deadline.

About The Partners

  • Texas Council for International Studies (TCIS)

With a strong emphasis on International Baccalaureate education and elite academic excellence, TCIS’s proposal hopes to partner with district campuses to help shape the future of IB programs through program development, professional training, curriculum planning, marketing support and scholarship programs.

  • Lions Pride (Texas A&M-Commerce)

A partnership with the University of Texas A&M at Commerce, Lions Pride  is proposing a partnership with those LISD campuses that have a STEAM-based education, with an aim toward the expansion upon project-based learning.

  • Longview LEAP (City of Longview)

A partnership with the City of Longview, LEAP’s proposal hopes to provide a collaborative program that prepares students in workforce readiness for high-demand careers in our region. 

  • International Center for Academics & Technology (iCAT)

The International Center for Academics & Technology is proposing a partnership with those LISD campuses that have a specialized focus on the Montessori Method of learning. 

"As a result of these partnerships, Longview students and staff stand to gain access to resources, professional development, and opportunities that have only been a dream in the past,” said Dr. Coleman. “In addition, the partnerships have the potential to attract business to the community and provide an economic benefit for the Longview community.”

Dr. Wilcox added that the internships and apprenticeships available to Longview students “will give them a leg up on the competition when it comes to pursuing careers or furthering their education after graduation.”

Longview ISD will work together in partnership to develop and maintain continuity of services for all district campuses, but Senate Bill 1882 will allow additional innovation and training for educators.

“We will collaborate with the various executive directors in order to continue the mission of providing the best services for the students of the greater Longview area,” said district CFO Joey Jones. 

If approved by the TEA, this will be the second time Longview ISD has moved in this direction since the passage of Senate Bill 1882. The first being the partnership with East Texas Advanced Academies prior to the 2019-2020 school year.

LISD schools currently in the ETAA network include the Montessori Prep Academy, Bramlette, Everhart, Johnston-McQueen, Ware, and Forest Park campuses.

Dr. Wilcox said Senate Bill 1882 incentivizes districts "to work collaboratively with new and existing partners to promote innovation and dramatically improve student outcomes."

“Innovative campuses are more expensive to run,” said Dr. Wilcox. “it requires the normal operating budget plus the additional S.B. 1882 funding benefiting to achieve the desired outcomes of an innovative campus.”

Last month Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath proposed new rules to clarify the management control of outside partners operating under new Senate Bill 1882 partnerships that the TEA approves to start next school year. School districts must apply for that approval by March 31 and the agency will decide on the applications by May 1.

"These partnerships offer districts the opportunity to expand the diversity of school options, bring in targeted expertise for innovation and turnaround support, and empower school leaders and partners with greater autonomy," added Dr. Wilcox.

Under the proposed rules, contracts between school districts and their operating partners must give the partners authority over campus staffing, including the principal, as well as curriculum decisions, schedules, assessments not required by the state and the campus budget.

The rules also require contracts to describe the funding structure of the partnership, but no longer would need them to include annual targets for student progress measured in the state’s annual campus ratings.

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