An open call for partners to manage Longview ISD campuses as charter schools should be coming soon.
Craig Coleman, chief innovation officer for the district, said Longview ISD soon will be issuing an open call for partners to manage possible Senate Bill 1882 schools, because the partners will need to be in place when the application to the Texas Education Agency is filed by its due date of March 31.
A mandatory letter of intent for districts wishing to pursue partnerships to make campuses charter school was due to TEA on Friday. School board president Ginia Northcutt said Tuesday the district was planning to submit a letter before the deadline.
However, Coleman on Wednesday said the letter — which was an online form — actually already had been submitted to TEA on Sunday. When asked the timeline discrepancy, Coleman said Northcutt probably just had not been told at that time that the letter already had been filed.
Northcutt had said the letter is nonbinding. The district can submit the letter but still not apply for the partnership.
Senate Bill 1882 lays a path for a nonprofit charter school group to operate public school campuses. Longview ISD officials have hailed it as a way to fund innovative educational programs and receive a significant infusion of state money.
Currently, the district has six Senate Bill 1882 charter schools. The district-within-a-district is run by the nonprofit East Texas Advanced Academies. Those campuses are East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, Johnston-McQueen Elementary School, J.L. Everhart Elementary School, Bramlette STEAM Academy and Forest Park Magnet School.
Coleman said described the process for choosing the partners.
“The way it would work is, we would send out the call. Once that call goes out, you receive the proposals. Then you review those proposals,” he said. “We’ll have a review team — we have not finalized the members of that at this time — but that review team would review the proposals.”
After review, the team would determine proposals for the district staff to submit to the school board, Coleman said.
“The idea is that you have some external reviewers that are familiar with the charter school process,” Coleman said. “But we would have some district personnel and whoever else we put on that.”
Because the application is due in March, Coleman said that review team should be formed soon, and the call could go out within the next couple of months.
Coleman said a school board vote has not been scheduled yet to let trustees make the final call on applying for districtwide charter status.
Longview ISD hosted four town halls this fall on the districtwide charter initiative to get community input on the potential move.
Many parents and community members expressed concern about the initiative at the meetings. At the latest meeting, parents showed concern about how the move would impact teachers.
Parents also asked why the district wants to make the move at all. Some have said they feel the choice of whether their child goes to a charter school is being taken away from them.
When asked if community objections to the districtwide charter move could stop Longview ISD from pursuing the action, Coleman said the decision rests with the trustees.
“That’s totally up to the board,” he said. “I haven’t made a recommendation to the board yet. They have asked me to explore what options we might have, and that’s what we’re doing.”