A Longview ISD virtual town hall on charter schools initially will be accessible only to those with a district email address.

Parents will be able to use their students’ emails to participate in the hour-long online meeting set to start at 6 p.m. Thursday. District spokeswoman Elizabeth Ross said every Longview ISD student has been assigned a district email.

During the meeting, district officials will answer questions that have been sent via the ask@lisd.org email.

Everyone else can watch a recording that will be posted immediately after on social media and to the district’s website, Ross said. Questions can still be sent to district officials after the live meeting at ask@lisd.org .

The virtual town hall can be accessed via Google Hangouts at tinyurl.com/lisdvirtualtownhall .

The district is considering converting all campuses to Senate Bill 1882 charter schools. SB 1882 is legislation that provides financial incentive to districts that allow nonprofit entities to take campuses over as charters.

The district has six SB 1882 charter schools run by the nonprofit organization East Texas Advanced Academies. Those campuses are East Texas Montessori Prep Academy, Ware East Texas Montessori Academy, Johnston-McQueen Elementary School, Bramlette STEAM Academy, J.L. Everhart Elementary School and Forest Park Middle School.

Ross said the district tested other platforms to host an online meeting, but Google Hangouts was the best option.

The News-Journal earlier offered to host a virtual town hall on its Facebook page through Facebook Live, but the district did not respond to that offer.

Place 2 Trustee Ava Welge said while the situation is not ideal, the district wanted to find a way to host a town hall on the charter school issue after in-person gatherings were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said district officials did a test run on the Google Hangouts application to learn how to use it, and she said it was simple.

“We’re going to do the best we can,” Welge said. “In the circumstances we’re in, we didn’t have a whole lot of choice. We didn’t want people to think we were forgetting them.”

She said officials will try to answer as many questions as possible.

“I am concerned about participation,” she said. “We’re trying to keep it to an hour. If we need to do more than one (virtual town hall), we can.”

The application for Longview ISD to convert its remaining campuses to charter schools is due April 30 to the Texas Education Agency.

Trustees must still approve the partners that would take over the schools if the application is approved by the state. The board could vote on partners at its Monday meeting.

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