Nevada Ed Watch 6/28/19

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 (1st 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, June 28, 2019
State Public Charter School Authority Board Meeting

Click here to see the meeting agenda

What happened at this meeting?

Public Comment
Members of the public provided testimony to Board members regarding:

  • Concerns about severance pay not received by staff following the closure of Argent Preparatory Academy. 
  • A representative from the City of Henderson shared input to suggest including overcrowding as part of the needs assessment within the SPCSA growth management plan.

The Board Approved Charter Contract Amendment Applications

The Board approved the following requests for charter contract amendments:

  • Request for facility consolidation of two Quest Academy campuses– the Alexander campus and the Northwest campus (for a combined enrollment of 600 students)
  • Request for enrollment to include only students 16 years and older at Beacon Academy
  • (Conditional Approval): Request by Leadership Academy of Nevada to operate independently from their contracted Educational Management Organization (EMO). This was approved on the condition that the curriculum is approved by the Department of Education. 

The Board Heard an Update on Discovery Charter School’s Receivership

Discovery Charter’s receiver shared a quarterly update with the Board, including the following highlights:

  • A list of proposed Board Members
  • There are two leaders covering administrative duties until the Board vets and approves a new school leader.

The Board Heard an Update on Argent Prep’s Receivership

Argent Preparatory Academy’s receiver shared updates to the Board, which included continued challenges with selling one of the school’s facilities. Once the facility is sold, funds will become available to pay severance to exited staff.

The Board Heard an Updates on Nevada Virtual Academy (NVA)

The Board heard a quarterly update on the progress towards closure of Nevada Virtual Academy’s elementary school– scheduled by the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Updates included:

  • NVA filed a complaint challenging the conditions that the Authority Board approved in 2018, when NVA’s charter application was approved.
  • NVA filed an injunction to operate under a court order without a charter contract. They are pending court hearing.
  • NVA approved litigation against the SPCSA.
  • SPCSA is hopeful that contract is executed by June 30th, despite court injunction.

The Board Approved the Academic and Organizational Performance Frameworks 

Academic Performance Framework

SPCSA staff proposed an Academic Performance Framework to take effect July 1, 2019. The SPCSA framework aligns with the Nevada School Performance Framework (NSPF), and will inform high stakes decisions and possible interventions. The framework includes four key indicators to determine a school’s performance:

  • NSPF Star Rating – 60 points
  • Geographical Comparison – 25 points
  • Diversity – 15 points
  • School Progress – no point value

Click here to download the presentation.

Organizational Performance Framework

SPCSA staff provided information to the Board about the Organizational Performance Framework to take effect July 1, 2019. The framework assesses whether an educational organization is effectively operated. Staff held listening sessions and working groups to collaboratively develop the framework. They also plan to host staff orientation sessions to walk through its implementation.

Click here to see the ratings scorecard. 

Click here to see the technical guide.

Click here to see the presentation.

The Board Heard Updates on the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment 

Staff provided a preview of the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment. In compliance with AB462 (requiring the SPCSA to establish a plan to manage the growth of charter schools)– by July 30th, the SPCSA must prepare an evaluation of student demographic information, the academic needs of students, and the needs of students who are at risk of dropping out. It was noted that needs may change over time with a constantly evolving public school landscape. This evaluation will inform authorizing decisions and be updated annually. 

The Board discussed the public input process and the requirement to seek input from local school districts. 

Click here to see the presentation.

The Board Heard Updates on the Growth Management Plan

The SPCSA is required to establish a plan to manage the growth of charter schools (including new schools, expansions, grade level expansions, and charter renewals). The plan considers statewide student performance, including data for specific groups and subgroups, and the academic needs of students in different geographic areas of the state. 

Staff introduced an approach to develop a Growth Management Plan by January 2020. The plan will be informed by the Academic and Demographic Needs Assessment (discussed above). 

Click here to see an overview of the plan.

The SPCSA will present an update at the August Board meeting, and present a draft in November.

The Board Heard a Legislative Recap

The Board heard a recap on 2019 legislative action that impacts public charter schools, including the following highlights: 

  • AB219: Requires schools in the bottom 30% of performance with English Language Learners to create plans for improvement. Additionally, English Language Learners will receive access to state assessments in any published language provided.
  • SB321: Transitioning Nevada Achievement School District (ASD) schools to the SPCSA. This bill voids charter contracts as of July 2020. New contracts will be initiated under authorization of the SPCSA.
  • SB451: This bill allows for variable length contract renewal at the discretion of the SPCSA, between 3 and 10 years. 
  • SB441: Provides for separate regulation of virtual charter schools. SPCSA staff is working with the Department of Education on developing virtual charter regulations.
  • SB543: Replaces the 52 year old Nevada Plan with a student centered funding formula. The Nevada Plan is the approach by which the legislature allocates and distributes funds to School Districts across the state. 

Click here to see the full recap.

The Board Heard Staff Reports

  • Executive Director:
    • A total of 12 focus groups have been conducted with stakeholders. Highlights from those conversations include:
      • School leaders and board chairs discussed challenges and priorities. Major themes were around funding and budgeting, high quality talent acquisition and retention, and school safety.
      • Regarding the relationship between the SPCSA and schools themselves, schools shared the importance of understanding the unique context of individual schools, maintaining open and ongoing communication, transparency and consistency in messaging, common goal alignment, and clear expectations with support.
    • The SPCSA is in the process of filling two vacant positions. The new positions, effective October 1st, are focused on data and assessments and support staff.
  • Finance and Operations Team: 
    • The SPCSA is in the process of completing FY19 grant reporting. 
  • Authorizing Team:
    • Conducted 18 site evaluations and completed reports for 18 schools.
    • Staff is working with the school support team to track completion of next steps that come from site evaluations.
    • Staff is receiving training on classroom observation rubrics and criteria.
    • Staff is in the final stages of drafting a schedule for the FY19 school year to present to the Board.
  • School Support Team:
    • Staff conducted enrollment growth adjustment and pre-enrollment adjustment audits.
    • Staff conducted a collaborative Title 1 program review.
    • Staff is supporting schools with data reporting.
    • Several SPCSA members will attend the National Charter School Conference in Las Vegas June 30-July 3.

Long Range Board Calendar Updates:

The long range calendar format was updated to include all 12 months, plus the following additions: 

  • Requirements as a result of the passage of AB462
  • New school applications and renewals

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