Nevada Ed-Watch 12/14/18

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 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? SPCSA members meet once monthly (three times in June)– 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 (2nd floor boardroom). Members of the public are invited to attend at either location. A time for public comment is provided at the beginning (for agenda items) and at the conclusion (on any matter) 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.

Click here for a list of all SPCSA Members.

Click here for a list of all SPCSA sponsored schools.

Friday, December 14, 2018
State Public Charter School Authority – Board Meeting

Click here to see the meeting agenda 

What happened at this meeting?

The Board Heard Staff Reports From Each Team (Authorizing, School Support, Finance & Operations & Legal)

  • The Authorizing Team has completed 7+ hours of internal training for impending site evaluations that are scheduled to begin in January. They also provided the newly released graduation rate for the class of 2017-2018 at SPCSA charter schools, which was 70.3%.
  • The School Support Team described school safety priorities, including the formation of a bi-monthly Charter School Safety Committee, school participation in the Nevada Preparedness Summit, and staff training with the FEMA National Emergency Management Executive Academy.
  • The Finance and Operations Team provided updates on the total federal pass through dollars to SPCSA schools. Additional discussion focused on the internal processes for managing and distributing funds.  
  • The Legal team has approved 4 renewal charter contracts to be fully executed by the end of the calendar year. An update on these contracts will be provided at January meeting.

The Board Received an Update on the Executive Director Search

There are currently 18 applicants for the Executive Director position with the SPCSA. The application window will close January 4th. The board will review all candidates at the January 18th meeting, and select 6-8 candidates to interview at a special Board meeting to follow.

Best Practices Year-in-Review

SPCSA staff provided the Board with a summary of public charter school best practices from the Focus on Schools presentations provided to the Authority during the 2018 calendar year.

  1. Data driven instruction and inquiry
    1. Use of DataWise (a data tracking program)
    2. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)
    3. MAP testing & PSAT in 8th-grade
  2. Collaboration
    1. Grade Level/Content Teams Teamwork
    2. School Design, including evaluation systems
  3. Strong Professional Development
    1. Frequent staff development days led by designated staff
    2. Consistent PLCs

Fund Our Future Coalition Presentation

Members of the Fund Our Future coalition provided a presentation on their work and mission. The Board discussed the potential to become a member of the coalition. While all Board members supported the mission of the coalition, it was ultimately decided not to join the coalition as a Board. However, members of the Board may join independently.

The Board requested an update on Fund Our Future’s efforts mid-way through the legislative session.

Update on the Revamp of the Organizational Performance Framework  

Staff provided a presentation on the Organizational SPCSA Performance Framework. This framework includes school operations, school environment, and reporting. The Board is considering revisions to the framework, including removing the Legal Questionnaire, to increase efficiency and to minimize duplicative efforts by schools and SPCSA staff.

This framework will be ready in the spring for implementation in the 2019-20 school year. The Board expressed concern about the timing– staff shared that implementing the framework in the middle of the school year is not best practice. To ensure stakeholders are kept up to speed, board members will meet with the heads of the two education committees to discuss the timeline.

Board Rejects Nevada Strong Academy Request to Waive Letter of Intent Deadline

The Board rejected a request by Nevada Strong Academy to accept a late Letter of Intent (or LOI). Staff members said reviewing the request outside the normal time frame (Sept. 1st-15th) would take over 100 hours of staff time. It would also shorten the length of time school leaders have to prepare to open for the 2019 year (about 45 days).

Nevada Strong Academy contended that they LOI deadline should be waived because:

  • Nevada Strong Academy had an application under review with the Achievement School District at the time of the Authority Notice of Intent window;
  • Nevada Strong Academy was confused about the correct Notice of Intent window for the Authority;
  • Nevada Strong Academy believes it can submit an outstanding, high-quality application after the Notice of Intent window; and
  • Nevada Strong Academy contends that the Notice of Intent window functions as a procedural deadline.

Click here to see the Staff Recommendation Memo

Click here to see the Letter from Nevada Strong Academy

Update on Local Education Agency (LEA) Implementation Planning

SPCSA has been working with consultants to fully understand the responsibility and efforts required to fully transition to a Local Education Agency (LEA). The board heard presentations regarding the internal operations and expansion of capacity that is required.

Consultant Recommendations:

  • The SPCSA should work in partnership with the NDE to operationalize full LEA responsibilities over the next 2-3 years.
  • The SPCSA should be restructured to operate in the long run with two parallel portfolios of charter schools: one portfolio of schools that have achieved independent LEA status, and another that is not eligible for independent status due to capacity, scale, or other considerations.
    • Training and support will be necessary for individual schools to identify whether they should become their own LEA, and how to operationalize.

Needs to serve as an LEA:

  • Phased implementation of SPCSA as a fully operational LEA
  • Quality data system
  • Increased staffing
  • Standardized grant training for SPCSA staff

Budget Request for 2019-2021 Biennium

SPCSA staff provided an update on the budget request for the 2019-2021 biennium. Staff also provided guidance on the process for the budget to be approved during the session. The Board expressed concern that the budget does not include new positions to implement necessary staffing changes for LEA status. The SPCSA staff and Board will work with the Nevada Department of Education to submit a budget amendment.

Click here to see the Budget Memo

Legislative Session Update

Draft language for the SPCSA’s Bill Draft Request (BDR) will be provided at the January meeting. This BDR is being developed in collaboration with the Nevada Department of Education to address a number of items.

Charter Contract Amendments Approved

The Board approved the following charter amendment requests:

  • Elko Institute for Academic Achievement’s request to move to a new facility.
  • Doral Academy of Nevada’s request to allow for the issuance of bonds up to $60m.
  • Somerset Academy’s request to allow for the issuance of bonds up to $18m.
  • Somerset Academy, Pinecrest Academy, and Sports Leadership and Management Academy (SLAM) requests to allow transportation for field trips and other school activities– on busses owned by the respective schools.

Potential Future Items:

  • Fund Our Future update
  • Legislative Agenda

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