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? The SPCSA sponsors and oversees public charter schools across the State of Nevada. The Authority consists of nine 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? SPCSA members meet once monthly– on Fridays.
Click here for SPCSA meeting schedule and materials.
Can community members engage at SPCSA Board Meetings? All meetings are 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). Members of the public are invited to attend at either location. A time for public comment is provided at the conclusion of each agenda item and at the conclusion of each Board meeting. There is a time limit of three minutes per speaker. Members of the community providing testimony must fill out a visitor card, available on-site the day of the meeting.
Alternatively, public comment may be submitted in writing at 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.
Click here for a list of all SPCSA Members.
Click here for a list of all SPCSA sponsored schools.
Friday, October 2, 2020
State Public Charter School Authority Board Meeting
What happened at this meeting?
Members of the public submitted comment online and over the phone regarding:
- Reopening schools for in-person instruction
- Concerns about reopening guidance
- Appreciation of the Authority for keeping school leaders apprised of information about school ratings
SPCSA Executive Director’s Report:
- Response to COVID-19 Pandemic & Reopening of Schools
- Director Feiden provided a recap on the SPCSA COVID-19 In Person Learning Guidance. In the guidance document, Baseline Level means a county is subject to the default mitigation efforts established across the state. A county will move into Mitigation Levels 1 or 2 if there are two or more consecutive weeks of elevated COVID transmissions. When a county moves into Mitigation Levels 1 or 2, the county must conduct a local risk assessment and action plan and provide them to the COVID19 Response Task Force. A county may be removed from Task Force supervision and move back down to Baseline Level when transmission has declined. The Road to Recovery document allows for other mitigation efforts to be put in place more quickly.
- Authority Guidelines:
- At Baseline Level, schools can choose to operate in person. At Mitigation Levels 1 or 2, schools must operate primarily distance and limit in person learning to 25%. Exemptions are provided to Washoe and Churchill–schools in these counties can operate beyond the 25% threshold, but no higher than 40%. No schools in Clark County have exemptions in place with many beginning to move from distance to 25% in person learning. Currently, 19 of 55 campuses in Clark County are providing in person instruction. The Authority will continue to monitor implementation and may consider additional exemptions.
- In a memo, Director Feiden noted that SPCSA has been tracking the number of cases in SPCSA-sponsored schools. At the point when the memo was drafted, SPCSA had been notified of 36 students or staff cases–that number is now up to 38. The students or staff that have contracted COVID had not had substantial contact with members of the community due to distance learning. Over the next month, the Authority will monitor mitigation Task Force data, continue to review weekly updates, and look closely at SPCSA data and data coming in across the county regarding cases in schools.
Click here to read more about this in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
- Connectivity and Devices:
- Currently, of students attending SPCSA sponsored schools, 154 students are without internet and 1,500 students need devices. The SPCSA is also working with Cox Communications to provide students in Clark County access to internet. SPCSA staff will provide additional information to schools next week. Click here to read the full update.
- Update on Serving All Students Equitably
- Changes to site evaluations approved at the August 28th board meeting have been implemented with early positive signs including increased diversity and representation of school site evaluation focus groups. Moving forward, SPCSA will continue to examine closing opportunity gaps by analyzing subgroup data as well as supports for schools who serve students experiencing homelessness or are systems-involved.
- Updates to Academic Performance Framework and Nevada School Performance Framework
- Aligned to the waiver that lifts state requirements to assign Star Ratings to schools in Nevada, the SPCSA will provide schools with partial SPCSA Academic Performance Framework results. In order to assess new school applications and requests for amendments, the SPCSA will consider a range of other data sources, including prior data for most schools, organizational and financial performance data, ACT results, graduation rates, and CTE participation. Click here to read the Monitoring Academic Performance memo.
- Grant Monitoring Protocol
- The SPCSA has the authority and responsibility to monitor its schools for federal grant compliance, as stated in 2 CFR § 200.331(b) as well as state grant compliance for those grants passed through the SPCSA. The SPCSA is seeking to evaluate the risk of SPCSA-sponsored subgrantees (schools) and how that approach will be monitored. SPCSA will hold an upcoming training with schools to conduct a risk assessment component which will help to ensure compliance with federal regulations.
- Regulations Regarding Online Charter Schools (SB441)
- Senate Bill 441, passed during the 2019 Legislative Session provides for the Department of Education to create regulations related to the operation of online-only charter schools. The SPCSA hosted stakeholder convenings to gather input on regulations. Feedback varied and is compiled in a memo to Superintendent Jhone Ebert. Moving forward, the Department of Education will schedule regulatory hearing. The SPCSA will continue to work with stakeholders to provide input.
Click here to Read the Senate Bill 441 Update Memo.
Board Heard Update from Schools Actions to Address Inequity
SPCSA board members heard from school leaders at Beacon Academy and Equipo Academy on efforts made to address equity, systemic racism, and/or the implementation of restorative justice practices.
Beacon Academy executive staff shared equity-related information on their school model:
- Beacon recruits and hires team members who relate well with the student population and their families and guardians. Beacon staff is provided with extensive professional development, including Trauma Informed Instruction. Retention incentives are provided to keep staff trained to work with the student population.
- Beacon provides for classroom considerations, ensuring students will be comfortable in the classroom to address student anxiety. Teachers are informed of any student anxieties in advance of the first day of school.
- Beacon staff is trained in customer service skills and the enrollment team is bilingual in Spanish and English. Beacon does not enforce “Zero Tolerance” policies and instead works with students about making better choices and decisions. If a student is withdrawn from Beacon, staff reach out in any way to re-engage the student. Efforts outlined above are repeated, but with additional interventions. Beacon operates from a perspective of helping.
- Beacon invites service providers to come to the school and to meet with students at the school in person. Community agencies can bridge the gap between what a school can do and what the students need. Beacon tries to ensure that available providers are in the community the student lives in within walking distance.
Click here to download Beacon Academy’s presentation.
Equipo Academy Founder and Principal Ben Salkowe shared the three initial equity priorities Equipo’s board facilitated, including:
- Making a statement that Black lives matter as a team and organization which was released as a Google doc others could sign–the statement was signed by several dozen student organizations, academic organizations, and PLCs.
- Backing up Equipo’s belief that Black lives matter, noting that even though Equipo is a school that has a restorative justice program and doesn’t support “Zero Tolerance” policies, there were still direct and indirect ways Equipo had opportunities to improve. Equipo looked at their enrollment data and discovered they serve proportionately less Black students than other nearby high schools.
- Equipo will be conducting an external audit related to the equity, access, and inclusivity of Equipo Academy. Equipo has partnered with Promise54 who will conduct a review of organizational documents as well as interview staff and families. Additionally, Promise54 will work with Equipo to create a vision document and policies & procedures that support inclusivity. The findings will be shared with the community at Equipo’s annual meeting and progress towards identified gaps will be communicated in an ongoing manner.
Board Heard Update on CIVICA Nevada College and Career Academy
SPCSA staff and representatives of CIVICA provided updates regarding the status of the conditions attached to CIVICA Nevada Career and Collegiate Academy. CIVICA has completed or near completed three conditions and anticipate the remainder to be completed no later than January 2021. CIVICA school representatives also shared updates on their Leadership Academic and Mentoring program, facilities, marketing communications, and upcoming events.
Click here to download CIVICA’s presentation.
Board Heard Update on Schools Under Receivership or Previously Under Receivership
SPCSA heard updates on Quest Academy and Argent Preparatory Academy from SPCSA staff and the appointed receiver for both schools.
Question Preparatory Academy:
Quest Preparatory Academy conducted its first meeting of the Quest Preparatory Academy Board on September 24, 2020. All five board members were in attendance. A second meeting will take place on October 6. Draft bylaws have been prepared for the board’s consideration to outline committee structures and election of officers as well as other governance structures, operations issues, and the school’s academic performance and financial position. Quest is on track to launch its governing board on or around Oct 15.
Argent Preparatory Academy:
The Argent building purchase has been extended two months. The contract extension adds additional fees for the purchases, bringing the total contract purchase to over $2.3 million and bringing an additional $30,000 into Argent. Additional funds are also in escrow.
Board Heard Update on Nevada Connections Academy
Nevada Connections Academy (NCA) executive staff shared updates on beginning school year progress and efforts to improve student outcomes and the school’s star rating. NCA plans to set forth targets related to English Language Learner (ELL) proficiency. The current graduation rate is over 80%, to be confirmed by the Nevada Department of Education in December. NCA will increase focus on preparing and monitoring student academic achievement and growth, and on addressing students’ needs with accountability, assessment completion, and interventions to help students reach success.
Click here to download the presentation.
Board Heard Overview of New School Application Process
The Authority heard a presentation from SPCSA staff on the new school application process. The presentation outlined the current six-step application process:
- Letter of Intent
- Completeness Check
- Application Review
- Capacity Interview
- Recommendation to the Board
SPCSA staff noted that the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment mandated under Assembly Bill 462 (2019) added a layer to the evaluation process where schools are unlikely to be approved if they do not meet these needs. Noteworthy changes of the new school application process include:
- A revised and updated rubric to eliminate redundancies and streamline processes;
- Addition of a scenario-based exercise to assess the capacity of each school’s governing board; and
- A modified financial plan workbook to request additional information and address assumptions.
Click here to download the presentation.
Board Heard Presentation on the Organizational Performance Framework
The SPCSA Organizational Performance Framework (OPF) sets forth agreed upon expectations of performance and compliance. The OPF enables the SPCSA to:
- Fulfill its mission as authorizer and regulator.
- Fulfill NRS 388A.273 requirements for performance indicators, measures, and metrics for the organization category.
- Fulfill public school obligations and provide transparent reporting.
- Convey SPCSA expectations of charter schools.
- Streamline work for staff and schools.
SPCSA monitors processes required by statute more closely under this framework, including lottery practices, board governance, and ELL programs. SPCSA staff plans to bring recommendations on this framework at the Nov. 6 meeting.
Click here to download the presentation.
Due to the volume of anticipated agenda items, an additional SPCSA meeting will be scheduled in December.
Click here to see the long-range calendar.
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