Trustees authorized Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox to negotiate and sign performance contracts with Texas Council for International Studies (TCIS), and Longview Educates and Prospers (LEAP) during a virtual board meeting Monday, April 13th.

Trustees approve new charter partners

Mon Apr 13, 2020

Longview Independent School District board members agreed to enter a charter partnership with two non-profit organizations, during a virtual meeting Monday, April 13th.

Trustees authorized Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox to negotiate and sign performance contracts with Texas Council for International Studies (TCIS), and Longview Educates and Prospers (LEAP).

Dr. Wilcox praised the board members for their diligence and dialogue throughout this process. 

“Our trustees have done such an excellent job of communicating to [district staff] their thoughts, concerns, and questions at every step of the way,” he said. “We appreciate their service and leadership to the entire Longview community.”

LISD Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Craig Coleman said the Texas Education Agency must still approve the application for benefits of the proposed contracts between the partners.

“If approved, TCIS will operate the Hudson PEP, Ned E. Williams, South Ward, Foster, Judson, and Longview High School campuses,” he said. “LEAP will operate Longview Early Graduation High School, Longview High School’s Career and Technical Education (CATE) program, and East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy.”

This stands to be the second time Longview ISD has moved in this direction since the passage of Senate Bill 1882 in as many years — 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 East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, as well as the Bramlette, Everhart, Johnston-McQueen, Ware, and Forest Park campuses.

 

About The Partners

With a strong emphasis on International Baccalaureate education and elite academic excellence, TCIS’s mission is to partner with Texas school districts to shape the future of IB World Schools in Texas through program development, professional training, curriculum planning, marketing support, and scholarship programs.

The IB Diploma Programme is an academically challenging and balanced programme of education that prepares students for success at university and in life beyond. The programme has gained recognition and respect from the world’s leading universities.

Local board members for TCIS include Karen Phillips, Walter Sorenson, Dolph Briscoe, Bill Thomas, and Margaret Davis, with LHS Dean of Instruction Linda Buie expected to serve as district liaison for the board. 
 

A partnership to provide a collaborative program that prepares students in real-world learning experiences for high-demand careers in our region, LEAP campuses will assist students with skills for employment and working collaboratively. 

LEAP hopes to represent the next generation of alternative learning environments. Rather than merely offering "high school light" or a narrow vocation experience, under the guidance of LEAP each campus will continue curating the learning experienced that are best-suited to the interests and objectives of their student population. 

Board members for LEAP include Wayne Mansfield, Shawn Hara, and Keith Bonds, with a leadership team that includes district Longview High CATE Director Gary Kreuger, Academy Director Jody Sanders, and Early Grad H.S. Principal Kristi Means.
 

The partnerships are governed by a 2017 state law called 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 run their schools as an in-district charter. 

In accordance with TEA policy, by having LISD be the authorizer of charter campuses, the district maintains the authority to set the ground rules the partners have to follow.

However, Dr. Coleman said students and staff will likely not notice any significant changes in day-to-day operations as a result of the proposed partnerships, as any of the shifts that may occur will involve details behind the scenes, “mostly on an administrative level." 

“But what teachers and students will notice, is 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,” he said, adding that individual campuses may also notice more freedom to make decisions in the best interest of their students.

“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,” said Dr. Coleman. 

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

Moving Forward

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 all students in the greater Longview area,” said district Chief Financial Officer Joey Jones. 

Earlier this year Longview ISD began negotiations with four applicants: International Center for Academics & Technology (iCAT) and Lions Pride (Texas A&M-Commerce), in addition to LEAP and TCIS. Dr. Coleman and LISD administrative staff have been evaluating the applicants since that time and brought a recommendation to the board on April 13th based on which partners “provided the right fit for our students, staff, and community.”

For more information about the Longview ISD public school charter program please visit LISD.org/charters, call the LISD Department of Innovation at 903-381-2200, or visit the TEA website: TxPartnerships.org