District looks back on another successful year

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox looks back on another amazing year of accomplishments and progress for Longview Schools in 2021... 

District looks back on another successful year

Mon Jan 3, 2022

Dr-James-Wilcox-2020-MUGSHOTBy Dr. James Wilcox
Superintendent of Schools

With the start of a New Year, I cannot help but look back on the previous year and everything that's occurred.

Despite innumerate, historically unprecedented challenges, there were so many amazing accomplishments by our students, staff, and the entire district in 2021, that I could fill up an entire edition of The Longview Voice just listing them one by one! But in the interest of time, I'll just hit a few of the highlights...

 

Judson designated as 'School To Watch'

Dr-Melanie-Pondant

Judson STEAM Academy has earned recognition as a "Texas School to Watch" by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform along with the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP).

"This unique designation is a reflection of our school’s commitment to academic growth and achievement," said Judson Principal Mrs. Melanie Pondant. "I am proud of our teachers and support staff — and of course, our parents — whose collaborative efforts ensure that each and every child has access to a rigorous, high quality, and socially equitable education."

Judson was honored in March at the Making Middle School Matter Symposium in Austin and received national recognition in June at the National Forum Schools to Watch Conference in Washington.
 

Dr. Wayne Guidry, Mr. John Wink join LISD leadership

The board unanimously approved hiring Spring Hill ISD Superintendent Dr. Wayne Guidry as Assistant Superintendent of Finance, and former Carthage ISD superintendent Mr. John Wink as Coordinator of Policy and New Schools, during their Feb. 8th regular meeting.

Dr. Wilcox cited Dr. Guidry's reputation as a cutting-edge innovator in educational leadership.

"His experience and accomplishments speak for themselves," he said. "I am confident that Dr. Guidry will prove to be a tremendous asset to the district leadership team, in the service of our students, staff, and entire Longview community."

Dr. James Wilcox said he has been familiar with Mr. Wink's work and reputation for a number of years, and when the administration saw the opportunity to fill an important role with such a qualified applicant, "We jumped on it."
 

Board OKs pay raise for bus drivers, monitors

While-waiting-for-the-students-to-return-from-the-field-trip-the-mid-adult-female-school-bus-driver-Longview ISD trustees approved increasing pay for bus drivers and monitors during a special meeting Wednesday, Feb. 24th.

Minimum pay for regular bus drivers will increase from $18.75 to $19.50 hourly, while the minimum rate for substitute bus drivers increases from $15 to $17 hourly.

Bus monitors’ minimum pay was increased from $11.50 to $15 hourly, while midpoint pay went from $14 to $17.50 hourly and maximum pay increased from $16.50 to $20 per hour. Substitute bus monitors now will make $12 per hour compared with $9.05 previously.
 

District helps bring Gap to Longview

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the city of Longview announced that Gap Inc. would be constructing their latest e-commerce fulfillment and distribution center in Longview, with an investment of $140 million. Company officials said within the next five years, Gap will create upwards of 1,200 full-time jobs in Longview, with an additional 1,000 part-time and seasonal jobs created by 2026.

The 850,000 square-foot facility will be built on 142 acres at Longview’s North Business Park, just off U.S. 259 and well inside the taxing district of LISD. Set to break ground in April at the earliest, the facility will initially serve Old Navy’s growing online business and should be fully operational by August 2022. Old Navy is one of several clothing brands that belong to parent company Gap Inc.
 

Assistant principal earns state honor

Hudson PEP Elementary Assistant Principal Mrs. Christi Coleman has been named 2021 Region VII Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year by the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).

Mrs. Coleman is in her 26th year in education and truly has a heart for her students and colleagues. As a teacher, she taught on the elementary and junior high level, as well as special education.

"This award is truly a testament to the hard work and dedication of the professionals that surround me, along with the great things that are taking place to help students at Hudson PEP," she said. "I am incredibly grateful to work with students and staff who inspire me and I am proud to be part of the Hudson PEP family."

Mrs. Coleman was celebrated last summer at an awards dinner in Austin, with the rest of the TEPSA Region Assistant Principals of the Year honorees.
 

District honors 2021 Distinguished Alumni

Longview Independent School District honored four former students Friday, May 21 during the annual Distinguished Alumni ceremony and luncheon at Lobo Coliseum. This year's Distinguished Alumni are Dr. Blanche Henderson Brick (Class of 1957), Dr. James Andrew "Andy" Mack (Class of 1978), Mr. Wray Wade (Class of 1986), and Mr. Joe Don Holley (Class of 1990).

All four said they were deeply thankful for their time at Longview ISD.

Honorees are nominated at-large and chosen by a committee of previous honorees, volunteer Distinguished Alumni Committee members, and the district’s Community Relations office. Distinguished alumni typically have excelled professionally, in addition to serving the communities in which they live.
 

LISD wins national honor for equity work

Longview Independent School District is among only 15 in the nation to win a 2021 Magna Award from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that recognizes districts across the country for programs that advance equity and break down barriers for underserved students.

The East Texas Montessori Prep Academy (ETMPA) was recognized for its commitment to equity as a first place winner in the 27th annual Magna Awards program.

“2020 was a year of challenges for all of us,” said Mrs. Shan Bauer, Longview ISD Board of Trustees President. “Winning top honor for the 2021 Magna Awards attests to the barrier-breaking educational programs Longview ISD’s leaders have put in place. I am beyond proud of the determination of administration and staff for making sure that our public Montessori campus continued to administer proven methods to all students during such trying times. Continuing to ensure such programs offer fair and equitable education to all students within the district is the key to future successes.”

Creating a public Montessori campus allows all students to receive a premier and sought-after education that, normally, has only been made available to those who can afford to pay expensive tuition fees.
 

Lobo Athletics to partner with 'Gameday'

Longview ISD has signed a marketing agreement with Longview Gameday, an East Texas-based sports multimedia organization owned and operated by Mr. Morgan Smith.

But what does this mean for Lobo Athletics?

"Significantly increased visibility for the many amazing Lobo athletes who walk the hallowed halls of Longview High," said Mr. Smith. "And a steady stream of dynamic multimedia presentations, partnerships with local TV stations, and featured coverage of ALL Lobo sports, focusing on the many hard-working athletes who make these programs renowned throughout the state and region!"

Coach John King, LISD Athletic Director, said the quality of Lobo athletes is second to none, but unfortunately Longview's smaller media market "sometimes makes it difficult for collegiate recruiters to have an accurate picture of how talented our players really are."

"I wouldn't trade our hard-working, tough Longview kids for any in the country," he said. "And history has shown that there's more than enough talent in Lobo Nation to make it to the collegiate and professional levels of multiple sports."

"We're looking forward to working with Longview Gameday in celebrating the many excellent student-athletes in our program, and help them get the exposure they need to pursue their ambitions at the next level."
 

South Ward renamed in honor of Mr. Clarence W. Bailey

Clarence-BaileyThe Longview ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved renaming South Ward Elementary in honor of the district's first African-American school board member, during a special-called meeting Wednesday, May 26.

South Ward Elementary will now become Clarence W. Bailey Elementary, or "The Bailey School," with a dedication set for later in the summer.

Mr. Clarence W. Bailey was elected in 1977, serving Place 6 on the LISD Board of Trustees for 21 years before stepping down in 1998.

One of the oldest campuses established by the school district, South Ward Elementary opened in 1934, with additions built in 1947 and 1954. The campus is located on Mobberly Avenue near Plilar Street, in the heart of historic south Longview.
 

LHS ranked among highest in East Texas

Longview High School is one of the best high schools in the East Texas region, according to a national ranking released April 27th.

The U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best High Schools list ranks LHS as the top campus in the Longview and Marshall metropolitan areas, and among the top five campuses in the entire East Texas region.

See the rankings hereBest High Schools in the Longview Area

A global authority in education rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranks more than 17,800 public high schools throughout the country, measuring how well schools serve students from various social and economic backgrounds.

For the 2021 rankings, the magazine used data from the 2018-19 school year to assess nearly 24,000 public high schools. Only 17,857 of them were ranked because some didn’t have enough 12th-graders (at least 15), and the rankings of only the top 75% (13,393) are released.
 

Crowds pack Longview ISD 'Career Fest'

IMG-4094Applicants filled the halls and classrooms of East Texas Montessori Prep Academy on May 1st for the annual job fair, hoping to join Longview Independent School District.

Representatives from the district's various campuses and departments answered questions with the goal of adding valuable educators to one of the fastest-growing school districts in East Texas.

Describing the job fair as a "kickoff event," Ms. Shalona McCray, LISD Director of Employee Relations, said her department will continue recruiting throughout the spring and summer.

With over 25 campuses and departments looking to fill about around 50 jobs, there were plenty of opportunities available. From those looking for a future job to those there to greet them, everyone seemed to be in good spirits.

Wall, Williams named LHS top students

Longview High School's Class of 2021 Valedictorian is Elizabeth Grace Wall, and Salutatorian is Emma Catherine Williams

Elizabeth plans to attend Auburn University to pursue a degree in Business Administration with a Pre-Med concentration. Emma plans to attend Baylor University and major in Communication Sciences and Disorders to become a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist.

With some offers still pending, scholarships total over $7.4 million for Longview High School seniors, according to Mrs. Kay Ray, coordinator of college scholarships and financial aid.
 

Dr. Samir Germanwala joins LISD board

Longview ISD Board of Trustees welcomed newly-elected Place 3 representative Dr. Samir Germanwala during the May 10th regular meeting.

Trustees canvassed the results of the Place 3 board election showing Dr. Germanwala earning 66 percent of the votes (261-134). 

"I am honored to be given the opportunity to represent District 3 in the Longview Independent School District," he said. "It has been a humbling experience to meet the families of our district during this campaign, and I look forward to representing those families in the upcoming years."

The current Board of Trustees for Longview ISD is now Mr. Michael Tubb (Place 1), Mr. Brett Miller (Place 2), Dr. Samir Germanwala (Place 3), Mrs. Ginia Northcutt (Place 4), Mrs. Shan Bauer (Place 5), Mr. Ted Beard (Place 6), and Dr. Troy Simmons (Place 7). 

Serving as a link between the community and classroom, school board members are elected to establish the policies that provide the framework for public schools. LISD trustees are responsible for an annual budget of more than $78 million, over 8,000 students and nearly 3,000 staffers.
 

Board approves raises for teachers, staff

Dr-James-HockenberryThe Longview ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved salary increases for district teachers and staff during their June 14th regular meeting.

Recommended to the board by  Dr. James Hockenberry, Assistant Superintendent of District Services, the  2021-22 Employee Compensation Structure includes normal step increases for teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses, with a 3 percent from the midpoint raise for other staff.

Dr. Hockenberry said, prior to the measure, the district's pay scale was "already among the highest in our region, and this new compensation structure ensures that Longview ISD remains a 'destination district' for the best of the best in East Texas."

Please click here to download the resolution and related documentation.
 

Community Relations earns national honors

Longview ISD's Community Relations department earned four National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) awards during the 2021 NSPRA conference July 11-14 in New Orleans.

The district received honors for the Lobo Live radio show, the COVID-19 feeding infographic, and the "I Have A Dream" video. In addition, The Longview Voice received a Merit Award in the Print Newsletter category.

An interesting twist to this honor is the fact that Longview ISD only submitted four entries, which means that everything the Community Relations department submitted for consideration received an award. LISD went four-for-four at the National level. Not a bad percentage!

The LISD Community Relations department is led by Communication Director Mr. Matthew Prosser, Multimedia Director Mrs. Elizabeth Ross, Outreach Coordinator Mrs. Kacy Swaim, District Spokesman Mr. Francisco Rojas, and Communication Specialists Mr. Dustin Taylor and Mr. Chris Frazier.

Our mission is to serve with professionalism, positive attitudes, courtesy and responsiveness, in facilitating open lines of communication and greater partnerships throughout the greater Longview area for our students, staff, and entire Lobo community!

For more information about the Longview ISD Community Relations department please click here

 

Trustees named Region VII Board of the Year

The Region VII Education Service Center has selected the Longview ISD Board of Trustees as the 2021 Regional School Board of the Year in the large school category.

Longview ISD's board will serve as the regional representative in this year’s Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) School Board Awards Program.

Mrs. Shan Bauer, LISD Board President, said the board was humbled to be selected, adding that "it is an honor and a privilege for us to serve the amazing students, employees, and families of Longview ISD."

The association’s School Board Awards Committee will meet in August to select up to five of the nominated boards to be recognized as Honor Boards, and the overall winner will be announced Sept. 25.

Longview ISD's board consists of President Mrs. Shan Bauer (Place 5), Vice President Mr. Michael Tubb (Place 1), Board Secretary Dr. Troy Simmons (Place 7), Asst. Secretary Dr. Samir Germanwala (Place 3), trustee Mr. Brett Miller (Place 2), trustee Mrs. Ginia Northcutt (Place 4), and trustee Mr. Ted Beard (Place 6).
 

Board OKs new school bus tracking system

The Longview ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $37,827 contract with Zonar Systems of Austin for a student tracking application on LISD school buses, during their July 19th regular meeting.

LISD will be utilizing Zonar’s Z Pass application on a variety of platforms to help families keep track of their students once they are on the school bus.

“This allows parents to receive text notifications whenever their child taps the reader getting on or off of the bus,” said Dr. Wayne Guidry, Assistant Superintendent of Finance. "Text notifications will include the time and location of pickup or drop-off."

Dr. Guidry said LISD families also can log in from a desktop computer or tablet to get notifications. The computer application displays a map of the physical location of the pickup or drop-off. The system will communicate any bus changes, delays, or even engine breakdowns.

For more information please visit the Zonar website at ZonarSystems.com or call the LISD Transportation department at 903-381-2200.
 

District cuts taxes for third straight year

For the third straight year, the Longview Independent School District will reduce property taxes for local stakeholders.

During their regular meeting Aug. 9th the LISD Board of Trustees got their first look at a proposed district budget for the coming year, which calls for property tax cuts as well as significant state revenue from their public school charter partnerships, and federal grant funding.

The proposed maintenance and operations tax rate is $.94170 and the interest and sinking tax rate is $.4730 cents for a total tax rate of $1.41470 per $100 valuation. The tax rate is a decrease from the current rate, which is $1.4394 per $100 valuation.

Longview Independent School District is projecting a balanced General Operating budget of $87,756,621 for the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox praised Dr. Guidry and his team in the LISD Business Office for their excellent work in developing this proposed budget "especially in the face of uncertain circumstances."
 

LISD offers $1,000 vaccine stipend

ai-mainThe Longview ISD Board of Trustees approved a one-time stipend of $1,000 for fully-vaccinated district employees during their regular meeting Sept. 13th.

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said for employees to receive the $1,000 stipend, "they must complete the COVID-19 vaccination stipend form, and submit proof of vaccination by the Nov. 1st deadline."

"Of course, participation is totally voluntary," he said. "That said, we do want to offer this stipend for any employees who are currently vaccinated or planning to be so in the very near future. If someone is on the fence about it, perhaps this might help encourage them to do so."

Dr. Wilcox explained that the purpose behind this stipend, "is to do everything and anything we can do, as a district, to ensure the safety of our community and the continuity of in-class instruction."
 

Dr. Wilcox welcomes Mike Morath to Longview

09212021-Morath-visits-Longview“(Public Education) is an extraordinarily large enterprise, unlike any business that anybody has ever been exposed to,” said Mr. Mike Morath, TEA Commissioner, during the Texas Public Schools Post-87th Summit, hosted by Longview ISD. “This is the hardest work that anyone does, on Earth."

After talking about how massive the education system is in Texas, Mr. Morath then went on to talk about how COVID has impacted the education of students and what can be done to course correct their learning.

Dr. James Wilcox, Superintendent of Longview ISD, thanked Mr. Morath for attending, adding that he is encouraged by how seriously more and more Texas legislators are taking the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic's impact on learning loss in the children. 

Along with Mr. Morath, the summit saw attendees ranging from state representatives to education lobbyists, and a variety of speakers were on hand to talk about the 87th Legislative Summit that took place earlier this year.

Organized by Longview ISD in partnership with local businesses and civic groups, the summit is part of an ongoing effort by the district to raise awareness for education issues that impact all Texans and the entire nation.

First started by state Reps. Jay Dean and Gary VanDeaver in 2016, the summit focuses on looking at how elected officials can support and represent schools. Unfortunately, both Reps. Dean and VanDeaver were only able to attend the summit via online, as they were required to be in the state capitol.
 

Hudson PEP named Top 5 elementary in Texas

A Longview ISD campus has been named a Top 5 elementary school in Texas by the U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever ranking of the state's best elementary schools.

Hudson PEP Elementary is ranked 5th of 4,446 elementary schools in the entire state, and the only Top 10 elementary campus located in a largely economically-disadvantaged community. Not only that, but Hudson PEP was ranked the No. 2 magnet elementary in Texas, second only to the exclusive William B. Travis Vanguard Academy in Dallas ISD.

With a student enrollment of 596 students in grades 1st through 5th, as of their reporting, U.S. News notes that the school’s minority student enrollment is 56 percent, the highest minority population among the other schools in the Top 10, with 49 percent of students classified as economically disadvantaged.

U.S. News & World Report cited 95 percent of Hudson PEP students scoring at or above the proficient level for math and 89 percent scoring at or above that level for reading, as key components to the campus's overall score. 
 

Band earns 72nd straight 'First' rating

The Longview High School Lobo Band earned a First Division rating from the entire judging panel to bring home its 72nd consecutive SUPERIOR University Interscholastic League marching contest rating.

With the top honor, the Big Green Marching Machine maintains the state record for consecutive superior ratings in a state contest. LHS has been ranked First Division since the inception of the UIL in 1949.

Their latest win took place on Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Lobo stadium. The Lobo marching band hosted 44 bands from East Texas, including the Lumberjack Marching Band from SFA that performed twice as an exhibition.
 

OSHA training a benefit for Lobo seniors

OSHA-program

Thanks to a partnership between Longview High School and Kilgore College, senior Lobos are able to earn the OSHA 30 certification.

While there was some confusion with the initial messaging that went out to parents, participation in the program is not mandatory for graduation. However, the perks of the certification will be sure to help the students in the future.

“It’s a good program that gives them a general view of what OSHA does, and how it protects them on the worksite,” said Mr. Randy Ashley who is the process technology instructor for LHS’ dual credit course and is assisting with the OSHA teaching. “When they go out into the field, whether it’s welding, industrial work, painting, construction work or whatever, they can look around and recognize if the work environment is safe or not.”

The OSHA 30-Hour training for general industry prepares students to avoid workplace safety and health risks.
 

Data shows LISD earned 51 state distinctions

Testing-STOCKLongview ISD would have earned 51 total distinctions on accountability ratings based on data obtained from various sources for the Texas Education Agency

This is a marked increase from the 40 distinctions earned in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Campuses are awarded distinctions for achievement in several areas based on performance relative to a group of 40 other campuses in Texas (campus comparison group) that are of similar type, size, grade span, and student demographics. Districts and campuses that receive an accountability rating of A, B, C, or D are eligible to earn distinction designations. The only distinction that a district may earn, however,  is in postsecondary readiness.

While the Texas Education Agency did not assign campus ratings or academic distinction designations to schools across the state, district officials explained that enough data was available to calculate academic distinction designations using the state model and formulas for the 2020-21 school year.
 

District to consider bond for campus upgrades

The Longview Independent School District Board of Trustees approved looking into the possibility of calling a bond to improve facilities during their regular meeting Monday, Dec. 13th

Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox said the district has finalized a facility needs assessment, and the administration will move forward in planning to address campuses needs through a bond program. 

"Longview ISD is unique in that the majority of the district was built during a three-year period," he said. "This requires the district to monitor facilities and make updates periodically to maintain instructional capacity." 

However, Dr. Wilcox said the district would not be considering a bond issue where Longview ISD taxes are increased.
 

Teachers earn over $3.1 million in incentive pay

12122021-LIFT-CHART-01Longview ISD is awarding more than $3.1 million in incentive pay for achieving teachers, with a few of the very highest-performing teachers projected to receive more than $30,000 extra in their December paychecks!

"We're thrilled with the excellent progress all our teachers and staff are making with students across the entire district, despite unprecedented challenges to the delivery of instruction," said Dr. James Wilcox, Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Wilcox said the goal of the district in starting the program was to maintain our most successful and effective teachers in the regular classroom.

“We could not be more excited to see our teachers receive these dollar amounts,” he said. “But our students are the real winners!”

While the Texas Education Agency did not assign campus ratings or academic distinction designations to schools across the state, Dr. Hockenberry said enough data is available to calculate academic distinction designations using the state model and formulas for the 2020-21 school year.

Incentive bonus distribution came in "lump sum" disbursement beginning on Dec. 17th.
 

There’s still MUCH more to come!

Whew! That might seem like a lot, but it's actually just a sampling of the many great things happening at Longview ISD. Our district continues to be the best school district east of Interstate 45, and it's all because of our people: our students, our staff, our parents, and our many community partners.

Thank you all for going above and beyond through the difficulties of 2021, and my prayers are with you for an excellent 2022!

It's a great time to be a Lobo!

 Dr. James Wilcox has served as Superintendent of Schools for Longview ISD since 2007. During his tenure, student enrollment and test scores have continued an upward trend, while the district has continued to expand its academic and extracurricular offerings. LISD is widely recognized as one of the most innovative school districts in the state.