Nevada Ed-Watch: 2/15/19

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, February 15, 2019
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 provided the following updates to the Board:

  • Site Evaluations:
    • Staff has participated in 15 hours of training for conducting site evaluations and conducted 5 site evaluations to date (on schedule to complete half of portfolio school site visits by the end of the semester).
    • It was noted that during focus groups, families at every school that received a visit report being happy with the decision they made to enroll their student in that school. Strong school culture at each school was also recognized.
    • A common opportunity for growth identified was around increasing instructional rigor.
  • School Applications:
    • The team is following up with schools that submitted a Letter of Intent to launch, but didn’t apply for authorization.
    • Reflections shared with schools that provided feedback were around schools needing to establish internal deadlines and requesting training on topics like Human Resources best practices, student recruitment, and funding.
  • Academic & Organizational Performance Frameworks:
    • The team held three 90-minute listening sessions with about 18 individuals to collect stakeholder input regarding SPCSA Performance Frameworks (both Academic and Organizational). Here’s what they heard:
      • A strong preference not to make the Academic Framework complicated, and not to duplicate the Nevada framework (NSPF)– rather, to look for complementary measures of performance.
      • A need to find a way to measure progress of students year-over-year.
      • Ensuring Organizational Framework standards are clear, simple, and avoid duplication from other components of the Frameworks.
    • Staff stated that the listening sessions are the first of many conversations. The Authorizing Team acknowledges that input from school leaders are necessary and welcomed. Next step is for attendees to participate in working groups (at least monthly) to continue developing the Academic and Organizational Frameworks.
    • Goal is for the framework to be updated and presented to the Board in June.
  • Focus on Schools updates
    • The team wants schools to share best practices with each other more regularly, and would like to hear from at least 6 schools in 2019 about what’s working. They also want to hear best practices across school types, like traditional district schools and other charters not sponsored by the SPCSA.
    • The team also wants to hear specifically from schools that have shown significant improvement, but are not ranked as 4- and 5- stars. The team talked about working with the press, the Charter School Authority of Nevada (CSAN), and other entities like Teach For America.

The School Support Team provided the following updates:

  • Provided training to school staff about how to validate graduation rates.
  • Attended school support site visits, trianings, and conferences about student engagement, Title I, and special education.
  • Engaging in ongoing communications with schools to provide technical supports around addressing parent concerns and providing guidance on state reporting.

The Finance and Operations Team provided the following updates:

  • Staffing– a new administrative assistant was hired.

The Legal Team provided the following updates:

  • Due Process Complaints– continuing to monitor issues with individual schools related to special education.
  • Executive Director Recruitment
    • Interviews will be conducted on March 8th with the 6 finalists. Then, the Board will select 3 candidates to be sent to the Governor for final selection.
    • Working with HR team to do reference checks and organize the interview process and questions.

Click here to see a summary of team updates from the previous board meeting and the 6 finalists (1/18/19).

Updates on Legislative Session and Status of Assembly Bill 78 Language

Staff provided an update regarding the 2019 Legislative Session and Assembly Bill 78. Staff stated that SPCSA staff is in close contact with Gov. Sisolak’s team and with education committee leadership.  

  • Legislative Updates:
    • AB78 – The SPCSA and Nevada Department of Education bill has undergone major revisions and now includes 5 major themes:
      • Ensuring that schools are serving all students, including special education and homeless students
      • Accountability of authorizers in ensuring that all annual reporting requirements are being met. This already exists in regulation, but they would like to specifically include in statute.
      • Giving SPCSA regulatory authority. Currently, the SPCSA does not have the authority to adopt its own regulations.
      • Clarifying that the SPCSA is the Local Education Agency (LEA) for their schools that are not currently designated as an LEA themselves.
      • Consolidating and combining the SPCSA and ASD, specifically in an effort to increase equitable access to high quality charter schools for all students.
  • Note: ultimately, all of these changes are up to the legislature to approve and are not final unless the bill passes.
  • Going forward, legislative updates will be provided to the Board in a written summary format. The team will work on a process to provide the Board with periodic updates between board meetings.

Board Hears Updates About the Beacon Academy of Nevada

SPCSA staff provided the Board with information regarding Beacon Academy’s performance under the Alternative Performance Framework.

Beacon Academy only serves high-need students, including students who are credit deficient, adjudicated, on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), or have been habitually disciplined.

Click here to see the Beacon Academy 2017-2018 Report Card.

Click here to see the presentation.
Click here to read about Beacon Academy in the Nevada Independent.

Board Hears Quarterly Update From Discovery Charter School

The Discovery staff, their receiver, and their principal shared updates on the topics below on the second year of receivership:

  • Student enrollment and population
  • Lottery
  • Performance

The team is currently engaging in a process to identify a permanent operator for the school. They are also currently performing a feasibility study to assess the potential of adding 9th grade.

Board Heard Updates About the Closing of Nevada Virtual Academy

School staff met with families and provided a closure timeline, including a communications plan. They also provided an overview of progress of non-elementary grades.

Click here to see the presentation.

Board Heard Updates on Responses to the Interim Finance Committee

Staff provided the Board updates about responses due to the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) on February 1, 2019. SPCSA understands that there is one more report due to IFC regarding these questions before August 1st. Staff will bring the report before the Board in a draft form for input prior to submission.

Click here to see the Legislative Letter of Intent.

Public Comment

  • One local charter school leader talked about a positive experience during their site evaluation by the SPCSA. The school leader cited that the evaluators spent a significant amount of time in the classroom, debriefing with administrators, and facilitating focus groups with parents.
  • Announcement that February 27-28th is Public Charter School Days at the Capitol, which includes presentations and a policy dinner and reception with lawmakers.

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