A journey that started in 2016 is coming to an end for Longview ISD as the district finally has received Senate Bill 1882 approval.

During his report at Monday’s board meeting, Superintendent James Wilcox confirmed the final approval from the Texas Education Agency.

“We did get an official approval letter from TEA (Monday),” Wilcox said. “We’re excited about taking this next step and the opportunities this will open for LISD students.”

With the approval, the district will turn six of its 13 schools into district-within-a-district charter campuses operated by the nonprofit East Texas Advanced Academies and its board. Cynthia Wise, principal at Forest Park Middle School, will serve as the CEO.

SB 1882 is a state law that lays a pathway for a nonprofit charter school group to operate public school campuses. District officials have hailed the charter option as a way to fund innovative education opportunities and receive a significant infusion of state money for ETAA.

The campuses to be transformed into charter schools are East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Forest Park Middle School and Johnston-McQueen, Ware, J.L. Everhart and Bramlette elementary schools.

The district also could receive up to $6.4 million in funding.

“We are proud of the models and innovations we already see across the district,” Wise said in a presentation to trustees. “But there are outliers, and we see the opportunity to share practices across the schools.”

Wise shared her model of a “culture-conscious campus,” which will be spread to all charter campuses. The model includes strong instruction, enhanced relationships between students and teachers and a culture that fosters high expectations.

All of the concepts can help improve campus performance, she said.

“We will be developing the leadership capacity of our principals starting in June,” she said of ETAA. “Our standard of excellence and vision will be standard across the network.”

The model will refocus campus leaders on vision, Wise said. 

“East Texas Advanced Academies exists to prepare Longview students for academic and lifelong success,” she said. “Now is the time to take our game to the next level.”

Wise also shared goals ETAA has for the campuses, including an increase in racial and socioeconomic diversity, academic growth, a decrease in discipline referrals and training at each campus to fully implement the model by 2022, she said.

All staff will remain Longview ISD employees, and students will remain Longview ISD students, Wise said. But ETAA will oversee and operate the campuses. Staff on ETAA campuses will be directly managed by Wise.

“We have to have the right people in the right places,” Wise said. “Our continued partnership with LISD as well as our key area of autonomy enable our vision. This is a formal partnership; we cannot do this alone.”