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 28, 2022
State Public Charter School Authority Special Board Meeting
Access the meeting agenda and playback.
What happened at this meeting?
Members of the public shared comments regarding:
- Inquiries about why Argent Preparatory Academy (formerly Silverstate Charter School) was closed, the impact of the school closure on students and families, how funds for the sale of the school building will be utilized, and severance pay for the school’s staff.
- Concerns about delayed grant reimbursements that are still pending from last Spring and how this impacts the financial performance framework standing of schools.
- Support for the opening of Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy Nevada and the benefit of its STEM, workforce preparedness, and college readiness programs for students.
Executive Director’s Report
- Initiatives Related to Serving All Students Equitably –
- SPCSA has prepared enrollment comparison reports for each school. The reports are expected to be sent out early February. In the last two years, SPCSA has provided each school with a report of their demographics compared to the District and neighborhood schools. SPCSA staff is planning to bring a proposal to the board to require schools with significant disparities in their demographics to develop a recruitment and enrollment plan to better serve a representative population. More information will be shared in March.
- SPCSA conducted a training for schools on lotteries, including enrollment preferences and weighted lotteries, in an effort to ensure schools are serving their local communities. Staff will provide an overview of the meeting in February.
- COVID-19 update – Most SPCSA-sponsored schools have remained fully open and in person. Some schools had transitioned to virtual for a short period of time but were successfully able to return to in person learning. Changes across schools due to updated COVID guidance by the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services include reduced quarantine periods and guidelines for schools to introduce a ‘test to stay’ strategy if they have sufficient capacity to manage that approach.
- Legislative Update –
- On February 3, SPCSA will present information to the Interim Finance Committee regarding emergency funds that have been allocated to the SPCSA. The SPCSA will also submit two semi-annual reports regarding two new positions that were allocated during the 2021 Legislative session for the site evaluation team.
- SPCSA is expected to be invited to meet with the Legislative Committee on Education on the 3rd Wednesday morning of each month now through August to discuss a range of topics. The meetings also generally include updates from the Nevada Department of Education, Nevada Association of School Superintendents, and the SPCSA.
- As of December 15, 2021, SPCSA had to submit a report regarding the evaluation of governing bodies of EMOs along with the actions taken by the authority of schools that received 1-2 star ratings.
- Update regarding Regulation R043-21 – As of December 21, 2021, SPCSA will facilitate one application cycle per year instead of two. Applications are due April 30 with letters of intent due on January 30. Staff committed to touching base with all the applicants and notified them that all the letters of intent will automatically carry to the April cycle. SPCSA will provide an update next month on the number of letters of intent submitted.
- Argent Preparatory Academy update – School closure was initiated in 2016 because of academic and financial reasons. The building was sold in 2018 and Joshua Kerns was named as receiver. SPCSA will expect full accounting and settling of the affairs of the school and its ‘wind-down’ by the end of the month. Settling of the affairs includes the severances that are still unpaid. The closing report delivered by Joshua Kerns will occur at the March meeting.
Board Heard Update Regarding Charter School Contract Amendment Applications
- Eagle Charter Schools of Nevada – The 2021 opening of Eagle Nevada has been deferred. With the current address, the necessary construction will not be completed by June. There is a condition that the lease will need to be executed by May 1. Additionally, Eagle will open with an enrollment cap of 540 students in its first year rather than 640 students.
Explore the Eagle Nevada recommendation memo.
- Elko Institute for Academic Achievement – Elko Institute is seeing steady increase with its enrollment and is currently housed in a warehouse. The school received a more than $8 million loan for the new location which includes a new gymnasium.
Explore the Elko Institute recommendation memo.
Board Heard Update on Approved New Charter Schools for Fall 2022
- Battle Born Academy – Battle Born is scheduled to open for grades K, 5, and 6 this Fall. The school location was approved by the city in January 2022. The school currently has 37 applicants for enrollment and celebrated a number of grants received.
- Sage Collegiate – Sage is scheduled to open K-5 with over 200 students in year one. The school will be located at the former Elk’s Lodge on West Charleston Blvd and will open in August. Over 100 students are enrolled. Sage’s lottery will take place in February at the West Charleston Library.
Explore the Sage Collegiate update.
- PilotED Cactus Park Elementary – The permit for the school location has been completed. PilotEd Cactus Park is a recipient of the Great Schools for Nevada Charter School Program (CSP) Grant. SPCSA approved the school’s updated lottery policy. The school is currently meeting enrollment thresholds and has job postings on its website.
- Young Women’s Leadership Academy (YWLA) – YWLA is scheduled to open this Fall, serving 150 students in year one. The school’s enrollment policy was submitted for approval. YWLA is currently in their enrollment window with 20% of enrollment met.
- Las Vegas Collegiate – Las Vegas Collegiate was approved at the December 2019 SPCSA board meeting and later approved for deferral to open in 2021. Due to facility challenges, the school was approved to instead open in 2022. The school did not meet location conditions and in November 2021 the board moved to a dissolution plan. Any funds and furniture that was purchased will be moved to another charter school.
Board Heard Recommendations and Voted on Resubmitted New Charter School Applications
- Strong Start Academy – Strong Start was approved to open with conditions that include submission of an updated lottery policy, evidence that the executive director has been hired, evidence of contracts and key service providers; evidence of a facility, and evidence that school has transportation support.
Explore the Strong Start Academy application report.
- Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy Nevada (PTAAN) – PTAAN’s application was denied (4-3) based on factors including that student feedback was mostly from private school populations, partnerships were still in their initial stages, lack of evidence/support of parent outreach and engagement, concerns and lack of clarity for formal hiring of a school leader, and concerns about the facility.
Explore the PTAAN application report.
Board Approved Recommendations on the SPCSA Financial Performance Framework
The Financial Performance Framework is a tool utilized to evaluate a charter schools’ financial well being, health, and performance as part of ongoing monitoring and the renewal decision making process. Charter schools have the autonomy to manage their finances consistent with state and federal law; however, sponsors must ensure that the schools they sponsor are financially stable. In the process of renewing or not renewing a charter school, sponsors must determine whether the school is not only academically and organizationally sound, but also financially viable.
Approved recommendations included:
- Accept performance data for all schools included in the presentation.
- Remove the active Notice of Concern for Discovery Charter School as the school is Meeting Standard.
Explore the Financial Performance Framework presentation.
Board Approved Recommendation on the SPCSA Organizational Performance Framework
The SPCSA Organizational Performance Framework (OPF) sets forth agreed upon expectations of performance and compliance. The Framework measures SPCSA-sponsored charter schools under five areas of focus: 1) Education Program, 2) Financial Management & Oversight, 3) Governance & Reporting, 4) Students & Employees, and 5) School Environment. Schools must reach 80% or higher on a 20-point scale in each of the five focus areas to rate as “Meets Standard.”
The board approved staff recommendation to accept the 2021–2022 Organizational Framework results as presented, and delegate to SPCSA staff the authority to provide final results to governing boards of each charter school in the coming weeks.
Board Approved 2022 SPCSA Academic & Demographic Needs Assessment
The Academic & Demographic Needs Assessment is an evaluation of student demographic information, the academic needs of students, and the needs of students who are at risk of dropping out. When reviewing charter school applications, the Authority must consider the degree to which the proposed charter school will address the needs identified in the Needs Assessment. The SPCSA board first approved the needs assessment at the July 26, 2019 meeting. SPCSA is required to update the Needs Assessment by January 31 of each year.
Proposed revisions for 2022 include updated definitions, additional student groups such as the homeless and foster population, language around barriers to access related to transportation, updates to data metrics, inclusion of data and information on newly opened SPCSA-charter schools, and language emphasizing partnering with the community intended to be served.
The board approved the 2022 Academic & Demographic Needs Assessment with one technical change related to maps.
Explore the 2022 Academic & Demographic Needs Assessment.
Board Approved the Annual Report to Nevada’s Department of Education
Director Feiden shared that 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.
The board approved the annual report with additional financial information to be approved in February.
Explore the report.
Long-Range Calendar (next 3 months)
Agenda items over the next three SPCSA board meetings are anticipated to include:
- A “State of the SPCSA” presentation to be given during the February 15 board meeting.
Explore the long-range calendar.