Nevada Ed-Watch 6/24/20

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, 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, June 26, 2020
State Public Charter School Authority Board Meeting

Click here to see the meeting agenda 

Members of the public submitted comment online regarding: 

  • Support for requiring schools to open with distance learning only  

SPCSA Executive Director’s Report: 

Report Highlights: 

  • Response to COVID-19 pandemic and the reopening of schools 
    • SPCSA has received 27 of 37 reopening plans for review. Individual school plans are available on school websites. Click here to view the minimum approval requirements. The majority of schools are planning to open with a hybrid online/in-person model, with at least one school intending to open fully in person and at least one school intending to open completely virtual. SPCSA staff is continuing to monitor any changes or announcements that could impact SPCSA-sponsored schools. Click here to see the full COVID-19 update. 
  • Applications & Expansions 
    • Five charter applications were submitted for the summer application cycle. Application review will begin in August. 
    • American Preparatory Academy, Mater Academy, and Nevada State High School have been approved for expansions for Fall 2020.
  • Site Evaluation Process and Improvements for the 2020-21 School Year 
    • SPCSA staff engaged with school leaders, board members, and other authorizers to identify refinements to site evaluations. Staff will bring recommendations to the August board meeting. The recommendations will include updates to the document review items and classroom observations. SPCSA will conduct 39 site evaluations next year. 
  • 31st (2020) Special Session of the Nevada Legislature 
    • Upon the close of the special session, substantial cuts were made to the Read by Grade 3 and SB178 funds. However, $50 million of CARES Act funding was directed to support students that fall into specific categories including ELL, FRL, proficiency below the 25th percentile, and attends a school that rates in the bottom 10% in the State. 

Board Heard Updates & Approved Amendments from Charter Schools Launching Fall 2020

SPCSA board members heard from school leaders & board members of three approved SPCSA schools opening for the 2020-2021 school year. 

  • Pinecrest Academy of Northern Nevada 
    • Pinecrest Academy of Northern Nevada has satisfied requirements set by the SPCSA for opening. They have met projected enrollment targets for all grades but 7th. They have an approved agreement with the Boys & Girls Club to support student meals and transportation. Click here to see the full update. 
  • Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS)
    • GALS has enrolled 90 students, and is on track to meet enrollment targets for opening. They plan to open on August 10 with both a hybrid and online-only option. With regards to diversity, 16% of GALS enrolled students who have an IEP, and 35% are English Language Learners. Click here to see the full update.  
  • Explore Academy  
    • SPCSA board granted Explore Academy a good cause exemption to amend their enrollment cap from 330 students for the start of the 2020-2021 school year to 150. Explore Academy staff feel confident that they can reach this enrollment number and that they can operate feasibly with 150 students. Click here to see the full update. Click here to see SPCSA staff’s recommendation memo. 

Board Approved American Preparatory Academy New School Name & Configuration

The SPCSA board granted American Preparatory Academy a good cause exemption to amend their school name to Amplus Academy. Additionally, the board approved changes to the grade configuration of their two campuses. One campus will now house all classes for grades K-3 with the other housing grades 4-12. School leaders plan to submit an additional amendment that includes a plan to fulfill the responsibilities of their former Education Management Organization (EMO).  The SPCSA board approved a separation from their EMO at the June 26th board meeting

Board Heard Update From Schools Under or Previously Under Receivership 

Argent Preparatory Academy’s former school building is currently under contract for sale. This is the former school’s final asset. The sale is expected to close in September 2020. 

Quest Preparatory Academy is in the process of reconstituting their board, and have confirmed five new members. Additionally, Quest’s Alexander campus is under contract for sale. The sale is expected to close in October 2020. 

Click here to see the full update

Board Heard Update on Nevada Connections Academy

Nevada Connections Academy staff provided the SPCSA with an update on efforts to improve student outcomes and the school’s star rating. NCA anticipates reaching 2-stars in the 2020-2021 school year and 3-stars for 2021-2022. NCA has made adjustments to their escalation system, which is used to monitor student progress, attendance, and performance. These adjustments reduce the amount of time between a student falling behind and interventions being put into place. 

SPCSA board members discussed the importance of the school’s board providing oversight on metrics related to student achievement. If the school receives a 1-star rating, their charter contract will be subject to termination. 

Click here to download the presentation

Board Discussed Priority to Serving All Students Equitably 

SPCSA staff facilitated a discussion with board members regarding ways the authority can ensure all students in SPCSA-sponsored schools are being served equitably. Suggestions from board members included changes to Site Evaluation observations and focus groups, regular review of disaggregated annual discipline data, and exploring SPCSA-supported training options on inclusion, implicit bias, and anti-racism. The board also discussed the need to be transparent with families and the community about progress towards equitably serving all students. SPCSA staff will bring this item back for discussion at the August meeting to further identify concepts and ideas to move forward on. 

Click here to see discipline and achievement data

Board Discussed Potential Updates to Growth Management Plan and Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment 

NRS 388A requires that the SPSCA Growth Management Plan be reviewed and revised at least biennially and the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment be updated each year. Updates to the Growth Management Plan will include a strong stakeholder engagement strategy to deepen relationships with communities throughout the State. Updates to the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment will include new demographic data published by the Department of Education in addition to needs assessment maps and tools that can be leveraged by stakeholders. Board members also discussed including economic development metrics in the needs assessment. 

Click here to see supporting documents

Board Heard Overview of Charter School Renewal Process

SPCSA-authorized schools up for renewal submit a letter of intent and application to renew in the fall. Within 60 days, SPSA staff review renewal applications and provide renewal recommendations to the board before December 15. When reviewing renewal applications, SPCSA staff look at the school’s academic, organizational, and financial performance, site evaluation findings, and other information provided by the school. 

Click here to download the presentation. 

Board Approves Updates for Nevada Virtual Academy

Nevada Virtual Academy is a fully online school that has been in operation in Nevada since 2007. They serve 1,300 students in grades 6-12 and have consistently received 3-star ratings for their middle and high school since 2016-2017 school year. 

The board approved staff recommendation to dismiss litigation between the  SPCSA and Nevada Virtual Academy. This settlement requires each party to pay for their own legal fees. Additionally, the board approved amendments to NVA’s charter contract term to end June 30, 2024 and increase their enrollment cap from 1,790 students to 2,100. Finally, the amendment removes a provision that the school will be closed if they are rated 2-stars for two years in a row. 

Click here to see SPCSA staff recommendations 
Click here to see the amended contract 
Click here to see the settlement agreement

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