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, August 27, 2021
State Public Charter School Authority Special Board Meeting
What happened at this meeting?
SPCSA Executive Director’s Report:
- SPCSA staff and Authority board member update
- Following the close of Member Kirner’s term on July 30, 2021, SPCSA is excited to welcome Javier Trujullo to the board. Member Trujillo was unable to attend the August 27 meeting and will be in attendance October 1. SPCSA is in the process of filling one vacancy and hiring for five new positions which are authorized to begin October 1.
- Initiatives related to Serving All Students Equitably
- SPCSA staff recently participated in DEI training. Two of the training sessions were also available to school staff.
- The SPCSA Focus on Schools agenda item will continue at the October 1 meeting. Under this agenda item, SPCSA invites schools that share about their initiatives regarding equity.
- Update on the Summer Cycle for New Charter School Applications
- SPCSA is in the process of reviewing nine applications that were submitted during the summer application cycle. Capacity interviews with the schools have been scheduled. All nine applications are posted on SPCSA website along with a public comment form for each. SPCSA anticipates bringing recommendations for all nine applications to the November 5 board meeting.
- Nevada Legislative Session Interim Period Expected Reporting and Presentations
- During the Legislative Session Interim Period, SPCSA has been engaging with Legislative Committees and anticipates participating in the Interim Education and Interim Finance Committees. As part of their committee commitments, SPCSA will also provide semi-annual site evaluation reports.
- Proposed Regulatory Changes (Nevada Administrative Code 388A.260)
- SPCSA is contemplating proposed changes to its application process and timeline in a forthcoming workshop. Members of the public will be invited to join in person or virtually. A regulatory hearing will follow.
- COVID-19 Update
- Most SPCSA-sponsored schools have opened for their first day of school. The earliest first day opening was Aug 5 and the latest is September 7.
- SPCSA is continuing to engage with schools to keep in touch and share and gather information. School liaisons are also in place who help to report updates from schools back to SPCSA on a monthly basis.
- Schools continue to report positive COVID-19 cases in students and staff, in aggregate, that occur at SPCSA-sponsored school sites.
- SPCSA staff is focused on expanding COVID19 testing on school sites. With the support of the Department of Health and Human Services, SPCSA is in the process of setting up a mobile testing option that schools can take advantage of. Trained testing staff will go to schools every week.
Board Approved Charter School Contract Amendment Applications
- Oasis Academy
The SPCSA board approved a request by Oasis Academy for a good cause exemption to enable the school to pursue acquiring the facility they are currently leasing at 920 W. Williams Avenue in Fallon, Churchill County. The school building is located adjacent to Western Nevada Community College’s Fallon Campus. Oasis’ enrollment for the 2020-21 school year was 689 pupils. Acquisition of the current school building will allow Oasis to double its space and create cost savings while doubling capacity of the school. Approval is subject to the condition that the school submit monthly updates on the status of acquiring the building and to amend relevant ERC or the termination of this acquisition option.
One board member who is on staff at Oasis Academy recused themselves from voting.
Click here to see the Oasis Academy recommendation memo.
- Nevada Prep
- Nevada Prep was approved to occupy a new permanent facility on Betty Lane in North Las Vegas. That facility had experienced delays which consequently delayed the start of school. The school is offering programming at DISCOVERY Children’s Museum for families that were counting on having their children back in school in August. The Certificate of Occupancy for the Betty Lane building has come through and the school is expected to open on September 7.
With the opening of Nevada Prep on September 7, the board did not find a reason to vote on this agenda item.
Board Approved Proposed Updates to the Site Evaluation Process
The SPCSA conducts school site evaluations for the purpose of exercising oversight, monitoring schools, gathering feedback from schools, and document progress to goals in school charters. Site evaluations focus on 1) academic performance, 2) each school’s organizational effectiveness, and 3) each school’s commitment to its charter and the charter contract.
To continually improve site evaluations, the SPCSA implements annual improvements to the site evaluation process based on feedback from schools. The board approved the following five proposed changes to its site evaluation process:
- Randomization of Staff Focus Group participants
- Ensures that focus groups are not composed of individuals that are both staff and staff/parents within the school as this is not representative of the staff body.
- Reduce Redundancies of items requested and better align the review of documents
- Ensures SPCSA is not requesting information from schools that is already documented by the SPCSA.
- Improve the level of high-quality data collection and reporting
- Looks for clear data alignment so that there are several sources of data collected to back up information presented in site evaluations
- Increase the number of classroom observations conducted at each school
- Previously, 2-3 site evaluators were assigned per school with a minimum of one class observation per grade level. The number of classroom evaluations will be increased so that the data will be more representative of all of the classrooms in the school.
- Three ways of increasing our differentiation processes
- If a school has previously received a strong recommendation or a difficenity on a recent site evaluation, SPCSA will follow it up with routine progress checks every three months to ensure recommendations are addressed and to document and collect evidence.
- Any school identified as having a star rating of 2 or below or those with a Notice of Concern or Notice of Breach will automatically undergo a full site evaluation every year until there is improvement.
- Schools with a 4- or 5-star rating per recent NSPF data will undergo an abbreviated site evaluation, forgo the focus group portion, and receive limited classroom observations during their third year of charter.
Click here to view the Site Evaluation presentation.
Board Discussed Governance Standards for Sponsored Charter Schools
Assembly Bill 419 (2021) requires each charter school sponsor to establish standards for the governance of sponsored charter schools. SPCSA staff reviewed research on effective boards governance from location and national standards and studies. Staff conducted three focus groups with the board members of sponsored schools. 13 of the 38 SPCSA-sponsored schools participated in these focus groups. The focus groups centered around three questions:
- What are the most important functions/responsibilities of charter school boards?
- What topics are most important for charter school boards to discuss in board meetings?
- What are the characteristics of effective charter school boards?
Based on research and focus groups, SPCSA staff drafted the following six governance standards for board review:
- Focus on Student Growth, Achievement and Social and Emotional Wellbeing
- This standard is about setting goals for student outcomes, monitoring progress, and using data to inform decisions.
- Manage Financial Resources Responsibly
- This standard is about making sure the school is financially healthy short- and long-term.
- Ensure Strong Leadership and Effective Partnerships
- This standard focuses on strong leadership and ensuring partners (including CMOs, EMOs, and other vendors) are providing quality services that meet the needs of schools.
- Ensure an Effective, and Well-Run Organization
- This standard focuses on meeting legal and compliance requirements, open meeting law, bylaws, and organization and operational performance such as emergency preparedness.
- Operate in Service of your School Community
- This standard is about operating transparently and responding to the needs of the communities served.
- Act Strategically
- This standard focuses on the school’s strategic plan, mission and vision, and board governance.
Board members shared feedback including the need to streamline clear Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on board responsibilities, ensuring clarity of the role of the SPCSA, imbedding governance standards in site evaluations, supporting school boards in meeting the governance standards, and providing training for school boards.
A final version of the draft governance standards is expected to be presented to the board at the October 1 meeting.
Click here to view the draft governance standards.
Long-Range Calendar (next 3 months:)
Agenda items over the next three SPCSA board meetings are anticipated to include:
- A final governance standards document.
- A plan to provide an update on SPCSA’s ESSER Grant, Part A application, due September 10.
- A Focus on Schools agenda item.
- A substantial focus on academic standards.
- Remarks from leaders of schools that are under Notice of Breach will speak to us about the school’s academic performance and plans and strategies for the coming year.
- Remarks and progress updates from leaders of new schools slated to open in Fall 2022, including Battler Born Academy, Eagle Academy, Las Vegas Collegiate, and Sage Collegiate.
- Annual Count Day data and demographic data.
- Graduation rates, application renewals, contract amendments.
SPCSA board requested a future agenda item on Special Education funding and its impact on schools. Click here to see the long-range calendar.