QUESTION: I have students in three different Longview ISD schools. East Texas Advanced Academies gave free backpacks to students, so I asked about ETAA. Who is the person who heads ETAA outside of LISD? When I asked, I was told that ETAA is an “outside provider running the charter schools.” So who is running that “provider?” Does TEA send funds to ETAA that then sends funds to LISD? Where is ETAA located? If parents wanted to talk to someone at ETAA, how would they contact them? The school could not give me a telephone number so I asked for a website but was told they did not know about a website. (The school personnel didn’t know much about ETAA.)
ANSWER: Don’t take this as an opinion about whether this is good or bad, just an observation: the East Texas Advanced Academies doesn’t feel all that much like an outside provider from Longview ISD considering the people involved in running the charter schools and how it is organized.
Original organizational filings for East Texas Advanced Academies in 2018 indicated that two outside superintendents would be involved in Longview’s charter school proposal, but those two men have since resigned. Now, ETAA — not to be confused with the East Texas Alzheimer’s Alliance that has the same initials, or the East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy of nearly the same initials — has a local board with employees who largely were mined from within Longview ISD.
I learned that when I discovered Longview ISD has added “East Texas Advanced Academies” as one of the listings under the “Schools” subhead on its website, w3.lisd.org . The campuses that are part of East Texas Advanced Academies remain listed under the “Schools” subhead, but they’re also listed on the separate site that follows when you click on the “East Texas Advanced Academies” link.
On the East Texas Advanced Academies website, I found this phone number, (903) 446-2524. Dr. Cynthia Wise, who is chief executive officer of East Texas Advanced Academies, is the former principal of Forest Park Middle School at 1644 N. Eastman Road. District spokeswoman Elizabeth Ross confirmed for me that ETAA’s administrative offices are at Forest Park.
“ETAA is in partnership with Longview ISD and utilizes departments such as community relations, human resources, transportation and business administration,” Ross said in an email. “When TEA sends funding for ETAA, they send it to Longview ISD and we in turn distribute that to ETAA.”
In addition to Wise, several of the five staff members listed as part of the leadership team on the ETAA website previously worked in various capacities for Longview ISD. Also, the four men who comprise ETAA’s board of directors include two men who are former Longview ISD school board trustees. You can read more about all of this at https://sites.google.com/lisd.org/etaa .
I left a couple of phone messages for Wise in the hopes of talking to her about efforts to educate staff members at the ETAA campuses. She didn’t return my calls.
Longview ISD board President Ginia Northcutt said it’s her understanding that there have been efforts to educate staff members of the charter campuses, but she said those employees should be given “a little bit of grace” considering how new this arrangement is. Still, if there is this kind of miscommunication, she said, “We’ve got to do better.”
You might have seen that Longview ISD has scheduled a series of public meetings as the district considers changing all of its campuses to charter schools. Northcutt said she hopes “tons of people” attend the meetings from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on Monday at East Texas Advanced Manufacturing Academy; Oct. 1 at Forest Park Magnet School; Oct. 8 at Judson STEAM Academy; and Nov. 5 at Longview High School.
Q: Me and my dad come down Judson Road every morning, and there are a bunch of trees and shrubs that are dead, starting just past Welch Funeral Home all the way up to the convenience store at Hawkins Parkway and Judson Road. Can you tell me what happened to them?
A: I asked AEP Southwestern Electric Power Co. about this when I realized that those dead trees and bushes are underneath power lines. Company spokeswoman Karen Wissing confirmed my guess about what had happened there.
“It was an area that we had treated to control vegetation and protect the overhead lines along Judson Road,” she said in an email.