Nevada Ed-Watch 8/28/20

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, August 28, 2020

State Public Charter School Authority Board Meeting

Click here to see the meeting agenda

What happened at this meeting? 

Members of the public submitted comment online regarding: 

  • Support for school reopening decision made by the Authority 
  • Concerns about the implementation of distance learning 

SPCSA Executive Director’s Report: 

Report Highlights: 

  • Update on response to Covid-19 Pandemic:
    • Director Feiden and the SPCSA granted three exemptions to distance learning for schools in Washoe County. This is contingent on Washoe County School District continuing to operate in person learning. SPCSA’s primary efforts have focused on addressing connectivity needs, coordination with health districts, school leadership support, and communication. Click here to see the full memo.
  • New Schools: 
    • Pinecrest Academy of Northern Nevada, Girls Athletic Leadership Schools (GALS), and Explore Academy have each opened as planned. Civica Nevada has submitted three of the five required conditions for opening and will provide a more formal update to the board on October 2nd. 
  • Update on Summer Cycle for Charter Applications: 
    • The SPCSA received five complete charter applications for the summer cycle. Capacity interviews have been scheduled with school teams and recommendations for approval or denial will be brought before the board at the November 6th meeting. 
  • SPCSA Performance Framework Overview: 
    • The SPCSA performance framework is a document that sets forth agreed upon expectations of performance and compliance. It is the basis for school evaluations, ongoing monitoring and intervention that informs high-stakes decisions by an authorizer. Academic and Organizational results will be available in October or November. Financial results will be available in February. Click here to see the full overview.
  • Federal Grant Monitoring: 
    • The SPCSA is responsible for oversight on federal and state grants to Nevada Public Charter Schools in order to ensure schools are considering students services and well being, sound financial stewardship and legal compliance. Schools will receive updates about SPCSA’s federal grant monitoring in September. Click here to see the full overview. 

Board Approved Quest Academy Transition from Receivership (7-0-1)

Based on the academic and financial progress of Quest Academy throughout receivership, the Board approved SPCSA staff recommendation for Quest Academy to transition from receivership to a fully constituted board, with conditions. Members of Quest Academy school community outlined upcoming board training and next steps for the school. 

Note: Member Soifer recused himself due to a business relationship with a member of the Quest Academy board and therefore abstained from the vote. 

Click here to see the full recommendation, including conditions.

Board Approved Charter School Contract Amendments 

  • Freedom Classical Academy: The board approved a good cause exemption and amendment request for Freedom Classical Academy’s acquisition of its current facility. It will not affect approved enrollment.  Click here to see the full recommendation, including conditions. 
  • Honors Academy of Literature: The board approved a good cause exemption and amendment request for Honors Academy of Literature to increase their enrollment from 211 students to 225 students. Click here to see the full recommendation. 

Board Approved Amplus Academy Contract Amendment

Staff and board members from Amplus Academy provided an academic and financial update on the progress of Amplus transitioning away from their former Education Management Organization (EMO) to an independent charter school. Based on SPCSA staff recommendation, the Board approved changes to Amplus Academy’s academic, operational, and financial plans. Highlights of the changes include: 

  • updates to curriculum and professional development resources,
  • shifts to leadership structure to devote more time to specific student groups,
  • shifts to school based human resource functions, accounting and finance functions, and student recruitment and enrollment, and 
  • significant updates to financial plan due to reallocation of funds designated for Amplus Academy’s former (EMO) to directly support students.

 Click here to see the full recommendation. 

Board Approved Changes to Site Evaluation Process

SPCSA staff authority recommended updates and changes to the SPCSA’s site evaluation including an update on the work ahead. Site evaluations offer objective feedback to schools in years 1, 3, and 5 of operation. The board approved changes to the site evaluation process, including:  

  • a statement in the handbook to address potential for bias in focus groups, 
  • decreasing the number of items schools are required to upload, 
  • implementing a presentation from school leaders,
  • revisions to classroom observation rubric, and
  • reduction of the number of staff hours used on the final report.

  Click here to see the full presentation and all updates.

Board Heard Update on Serving All Students Equitably 

Based on feedback from the board, SPCSA staff outlined actions being implemented by the SPCSA to ensure schools are serving all students equitably. In addition to site evaluation updates approved by the board in a previous item, new school applications will be revised to include questions regarding efforts to close opportunity gaps and address disproportionate discipline practices. Charter renewal applications will include questions related to restorative justice practices and plans to address disproportionate discipline practices and opportunity gaps. Additionally, SPCSA will conduct annual presentations on student outcome data, and continue the Focus on Schools series.

Click here to read the full overview.

Board Discussed Students at Risk of Dropping Out

Director Feiden provided an overview of Students at Risk of Dropping Out of School within Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment and context on how SPCSA staff are addressing the need. SPCSA board members provided additional suggestions on addressing this need and requested to continue this conversation.

Click here to see the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment.

Long-Range Calendar

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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