The Ed-Watch series is designed to increase access to information on what decisions are being made regarding public education in Clark County and Nevada.
State Public Charter School Authority (SPCSA)
What is the SPCSA & what are they responsible for? Considered one of Nevada’s school districts, the SPCSA sponsors and oversees public charter schools. The Authority consists of seven appointed members responsible for overseeing educational and operational standards, and holding sponsored schools accountable to the academic achievement of students.
How often does the SPCSA Board meet? The SPCSA typically meets one a month, generally on Fridays.
Click here for SPCSA meeting schedule and materials.
Can community members engage at SPCSA Board Meetings? While all meetings of the SPCSA are typically held publicly at the Nevada Department of Education building in Carson City and the Nevada Department of Education building in Las Vegas (1st floor boardroom), all meetings are now held virtually due to the COVID-19 crisis. Members of the public may view the meeting online via the link on the SPCSA’s Public Notice web page and the agenda and any supporting materials can be found here. Public comment may be given on any agenda item at the beginning of the meeting, or public comment regarding any matter that is SPCSA-related may be given at the conclusion of each Board meeting. Members of the community giving public comment can utilize the following conference call line: 1-312-584-2401; extension 3952176# with a time limit of three minutes per speaker. Alternatively, public comment may be submitted in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, and any such public comment received prior to the meeting will be provided to the Authority and included in the written minutes of the meeting.
Friday, January 22, 2020
State Public Charter School Authority Board Meeting
What happened at this meeting?
Members of the public provided comment regarding:
- Support for Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy (PTAA) charter approval citing the importance of the impact of PTAA in the community.
SPCSA Executive Directors’ and SPCSA Staff Report:
- In-Person Learning Update
- Director Feiden does not currently anticipate any changes to the in-person learning guidance. SPCSA staff is committed to bringing students back to school buildings safely and will continue to monitor transmission rates in the state, as well as any changes in the current Statewide Pause. Should the circumstances improve in the coming month, staff anticipate reviewing the current in-person learning guidance and bringing any recommended changes to the February 26 meeting of the SPCSA Board. Click here to read the full statement.
- COVID -19 Vaccine Update
- The Authority has worked with the Department of Health and Human Services to implement school testing sites. The Authority is working with multiple agencies to ensure educators know how to sign up for vaccines in each county. Vaccine distribution for educators is occurring in most Nevada counties, however, Clark County School District (CCSD) is experiencing challenges. Vaccine pre-registration for CCSD educators will begin on January 25th. Click here to read the full statement.
- Initiatives Related to Serving All Students Equitably
- The SPCSA has made progress towards equity initiatives. The Authority has looked into school data on demographics of students served and will continue to monitor progress towards serving diverse communities. The Authority has surveyed schools on how they are providing diversity and inclusion training to their staff. Of those surveyed, 90% of respondents indicated an interest in diversity and inclusion professional development training for their staff and board leadership teams. The remaining 10% of respondents indicated that they were already receiving training. The Authority is looking into providing diversity and inclusion training in Spring or Summer 2021 and to utilize federal funding.
- The Nevada Department of Education’s (NDE) Proposed COVID-19 State Plan Addendum to Nevada’s ESEA Consolidated State Plan for the 2020-2021 School Year
- NDE proposes that the Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF) be “suspended” for the 2020-2021 school year, meaning they are requesting that no new star ratings be issued for the 2020-2021 school year. Instead, NDE proposes that star ratings continue to carry over from the 2018-2019 school year, the last school year that new star ratings were issued. The NDE is also proposing a pause on calculating chronic absenteeism. The Authority has developed a memo in response to the NDE’s proposal to the federal government. Board members requested clarification on the NDE’s decision to waive the chronic absenteeism count. Click here to see the NDE’s proposal.
- Explore Academy Facility Update
- The Authority has approved the building site acquired by Explore Academy and will continue to work with Explore Academy to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year.
- Update on 2020-2021 Site Evaluations
- The Authority has 23 more site evaluations scheduled through the end of this academic year.
Board Approved SPCSA Financial Performance Framework Recommendations
The Financial Performance Framework is used to determine if a school is financially viable and to inform high-stakes decisions. SPCSA staff presented information on the Financial Performance Framework indicators and how each indicator affects ratings. SPCSA staff also presented ratings for the 2019-20 school year and shared recommendations for actions to be taken, including recommendations to issue Notices of Concern to Discovery Charter School, Nevada Virtual Academy, and Quest Preparatory Academy. SPCSA staff recognized that the pandemic has created considerable challenges for schools and incorporated into their considerations for recommendations. SPCSA staff also acknowledged that these schools are working to make a stronger effort in financial performance and commended their efforts.
Some schools provided additional comments in regards to the recommendations. Highlights include:
- Discovery Charter School shared after receivership they inherited $367,000 in debt which was paid in full in June 2020. They also shared that their Current debt-to-asset ratio is progressing on target.
- Nevada Virtual Academy shared their commitment to work with the Authority to improve their debt-to-asset ratio and finances.
- Quest Preparatory Academy shared their commitment to work with the Authority to improve their finances.
- Honors Academy of Literature shared that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness has enabled them to improve on their status and will put them on track to address the Authority’s concerns.
- Legacy Traditional Schools commented that bond assets should be taken into consideration when measuring the debt-to-asset ratio.
- Signature Preparatory Academy commented on the status of their lease payment bond issue and shared that an increase in enrollment numbers will positively affect the trajectory of their financial standing.
The board unanimously approved a motion to:
- Adopt the Financial Framework results for SY2020-21 with exceptions to enrollment;
- Place Discovery Charter School, Nevada Virtual Academy, and Quest Preparatory Academy on Notice of Concern under the Financial Framework results for SY20-21, and to create a financial improvement plan for these schools.
- Create targeted remediation plans for SY21-22 for Doral Academy of Northern Nevada, Honors Academy of Literature, Legacy Traditional Schools, and Signature Preparatory Academy.
Click here to see the full recommendation memo.
Board Approved Charter School Contract Amendments
SPCSA staff presented recommendations related to charter school contract amendment applications on the following schools:
- Sports Leadership and Management Academy (SLAM) – The board approved SLAM Academy’s proposal to expand the school to include K-5 grade levels. The Authority found that the SLAM proposal qualifies with the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment and recommended to the Board to conditionally approve the proposal subject to improvement on items of concern in pre-opening requirements. Click here to see the full memo.
- Las Vegas Collegiate – The board approved a request by Las Vegas Collegiate Charter School to cap enrollment to 162 students, and to grant the school a Good Cause Exemption to request a temporary facility within 1.5 miles of the 89106 zip code for the 2021-2022 school year only. Click here to see the full memo.
Board Approved Staff Recommendations for Resubmitted New Charter School Applications
- Pioneer Technology & Art Academy (PTAA) Nevada – Denied (5-3)
- SPCSA staff gave an overview of PTAA’s initial application which did not meet the standard in five out of five categories according to the Authority’s application evaluation rubric. PTAA’s resubmitted application met the standard in two out of the five categories. SPCSA staff made the recommendation to deny the resubmission based on their finding that the application does not meet the requirements contained in NRS 388A.249(3). Click here to see the full recommendation. SPCSA staff shared concerns regarding the Academic Model of the high school. Board members discussed the need to ensure that school plans are articulated in their application and whether this application could be reconsidered after additional progress has been made to adjust PTAA to serve students K-8. Some board members were concerned about the precedent this would set around following the SPCSA application policy. Click here to see the resubmitted application.
- Eagle Charter Schools of Nevada – Approved
- SPCSA Staff provided an overview of the initial application which did not meet the standard according to the Authorities Rubric in four out of five categories. Eagle Charter Schools of Nevada resubmission met the standard in four out of five categories. Staff made the recommendation to approve the resubmission with conditions, based on their finding that the applicant now meets the requirements contained in NRS 388A.249(3). Click here to see the full recommendation. Board members discussed the need to ensure that Eagle Charter Schools of Nevada has the ability to meet the conditions set forth. Staff from Eagle Charter Schools of Nevada shared they are aligned with conditions set forth and are prepared to apply for a deferral to the 2022 school year if the conditions are not met. Click here to see the resubmitted application.
Board Heard Annual Review of SPCSA-Sponsored Schools
Director Feiden shared the State of the SPCSA, which is used as a starting point for communication with the public. Highlights include:
- The SPCSA sponsors 67 schools located across five counties, representing the third-largest student population in the state.
- Throughought the pandemic, the SPCSA has supported sponsored schools to ensure every student had access to a device and internet in order to engage in distance learning.
- SPCSA supported reported approximately 98% daily attendance and increases in graduation rates, even during the pandemic. SPCSA has adopted an academic performance framework that takes into consideration school star ratings, performance ratings, and enrollment diversity comparison to local school districts and nearby schools.
- SPCSA Title I schools are more likely to be 4- or 5-star schools than State average. Staff noted that the implementation of the Needs Assessment, alongside adjustments to the new school application process, has provided additional focus on serving more diverse student populations.
Click here to view the presentation.
Board Approved 2021 Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment
The Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment is updated annually by staff. Due to the academic reporting requirements impacted by the pandemic, only 11th grade ACT academic data was updated. However, enrollment data and demographic data was updated. Additional updates include a summary of the implementation of the needs assessment and district summaries.
Click here to view the report.
Board Heard School Pre-Opening Process
SPCSA staff shared the Pre-Opening Readiness Process and Checklist which includes the process and resources for SPCSA sponsored schools to open. The purpose of this document is to provide transparency to schools, manage school expectations, and outline what schools are responsible for in order to open properly and on time.
Click here to view the Pre-Opening Readiness Process and Checklist.
Board Approved the Annual Report to Nevada’s Department of Education
Director Feiden shared the expectations for the report include a list of schools, SPCSA strategic vision, and an outline of federal grant dollars passed through to SPCSA sponsored schools.
Click here to view the report.
Board Heard 2021 Legislative Session Updates
SPCSA staff shared an overview of education-related bills and bill drafts for the upcoming legislative session. Additionally, Director Feiden shared the proposal outlined by the Governor to implement the new Pupil Centered Funding Formula in two phases. The authority will continue to work in partnership with the Nevada Department of Education as the funding formula continues to be developed and implemented.
Click here to view the bill/bill draft request overview.
Director Feiden presented additions to the long-range calendar including legislative session dates, TEACH’s application resubmission in February, and the next round of application submissions in April/May.
Click here to see the long-range calendar.
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