Nevada Ed Watch 5/31/19

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, May 31, 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.  

The Board Heard a Presentation from Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus Middle School

Hearing from schools (both traditional and charter) about their successes and best practices is part of the SPCSA’s strategic plan. During this meeting, the Board heard from the Executive Director of Democracy Prep at the Agassi Campus (DPAC) about the success at DPAC middle school.

DPAC middle school success highlights:

  • The DPAC middle school grew from a 2-star to a 4-star school, with math proficiency doubling from year one to year two of operating.
  • 100% of 8th graders passed algebra, are ready to go into Geometry, and are on track to be college ready.

Click here to see the presentation.

The Board Heard Updates on Discovery Charter School’s Receivership

Discovery Charter’s receiver shared quarterly updates with the Board regarding academic results and reconstituting Discovery’s Board.

Discovery receivership academic highlights:

  • 100% of 3rd-8th grade students completed end of year testing.
  • 84% of the student population is performing on grade level in reading, based on growth assessment results.
  • 87% of the student population is performing on grade level in math, based on growth assessment results.

Additionally, the following topics were discussed:

  • Working towards a K-12 model, adding a grade level at a time starting with 9th grade.
  • Experiencing challenges related to the transferring of funds from payroll to a PERS (retirement system) payback plan.
  • Announcing five new school Board members.

Since Discovery’s receivership has met its academic benchmark goals (3-stars or higher, consecutively), the Board discussed the process and timeline for exiting receivership.

At the June Board meeting, the receiver will present an exit plan with deadlines and a target transition date.

The Board Heard Updates on Argent Prep’s Receivership

Argent Preparatory Academy’s receiver shared updates to the Board, which included:

  • Inability to meet the anticipated exit date of June 2019– due to challenges with selling one of the school’s facilities. Once the facility is sold, funds will become available to pay severance to exited staff.
  • All students have been placed in other respective district schools.

The Board Heard Updates on Quest Academy’s Receivership

Quest Academy’s receiver shared updates to the Board on exiting the receivership and reconstituting the school’s governing body.

Both Quest campuses exceeded academic targets within the improvement plan, and made progress towards financial solvency. It was noted that if the school is not financially viable, it will not be eligible for renewal.

The Board Heard Updates on NV Connections Academy

Staff and school leadership provided the Board updates on Nevada Connections Academy’s High School, which included the following improvements:

  • Increase in students passing core subjects
  • 68% graduation rate (increase form 60%)

The SPCSA will continue to work with the school to ensure they stay on track with their remediation plan.

Click here to see the Quest updates summary.

The Board Heard Updates on Nevada Virtual Academy

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

Nevada Virtual Academy’s middle and high schools must have an executed contract in about 30 days. If the new contract is not executed prior to their current contract’s expiration, the school will not be able to operate. The SPCSA Board and staff discussed their concerns about ensuring that students and families are not impacted.

Click here to download the presentation.

Executive Director Reports

The SPCSA staff and Board recognized the following schools for their accomplishments:

  • Oasis Academy, Pinecrest Academy Cadence, and Pinecrest Academy St. Rose 2019 for recognition as Governor-Designated STEM Schools.
  • Coral Academy for recognition as one of the best high schools by U.S. News & World Report (placed 8th in Nevada).

Additionally, the SPCSA Executive Director provided budget updates to the Board:

  • 3 out of four positions in the Governor’s recommended budget were approved. These positions are focused on data & assessment and a permanent executive assistant.
  • Sponsorship fees will move to 1.25% from 1.5% for the upcoming biennium in order to lower reserve levels of the agency.

The Board Heard Staff Reports

  • The Authorizing Team provided the following updates to the Board:
    • Staff has received 20 Letters of Intent and 7 amendment applications.
    • Renewals: The following schools will be up for renewal in 2019:
      • American Preparatory Academy
      • Beacon Academy of Nevada
      • Founders Academy
      • Leadership Academy
      • Mater Academy of Nevada
      • Nevada Connections Academy
      • Quest Preparatory Academy
  • Site Evaluations: 18 site evaluations have been completed, which exceeds the target of 16 visits over 4.5 months.
  • Performance Frameworks: The staff is finalizing the SPCSA academic and organizational frameworks, implementing feedback leading up to final drafts slated for this summer. Click here to see a presentation overview of the Academic Framework updates. All components of the SPCSA performance framework are on track to be ready for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • The School Support Team provided updates on data collection initiatives and requirements, school visits, and charter school safety trainings being conducted.

The Board Heard Legislative Updates

  • AB78: SPCSA “omnibus” bill, which will be active upon passage and approval. In its current form, the bill clarifies the following:
    • The SPCSA’s role as a Local Education Agency (LEA)
    • That charter schools must serve all students, including those with special needs
    • Federal enrollment requirements for certain at-risk students
    • The annual reporting of sponsors to the Department of Education, including the comprehensive review the Department of Education should complete every 3 years, and adding 2 additional members to the SPCSA board, appointed by the State Board of Education (by October 1)
  • SB321: Transitioning Nevada Achievement School District (ASD) schools to the SPCSA. This bill voids charter contracts as of July 2020. New contracts can be initiated under authorization of the SPCSA.
  • SB451: Variable length charter contract renewal. This bill allows for variable length contract renewal at the discretion of the SPCSA, between 3 and 10 years. If passed, this will be effective July 1, 2019.
  • SB441: Provides for separate regulation of virtual charter schools. SPCSA staff is working with the Department of Education on developing virtual charter regulations.

Board Heard Updates on the SPCSA Needs Assessment and Growth Management Plan

In compliance with AB462, the SPCSA is implementing Needs Assessment and Growth Management plan– an opportunity to enhance authorizer accountability practices and drive the strategic growth of charter schools.

After completing the initial academic and demographic Needs Assessment, it will be refreshed annually to ensure SPCSA practices are aligned and responsive to statewide needs as they evolve. SPCSA is committed to working with stakeholders, including school districts, in order to achieve the goals set forth in the Growth Plan.

Regular updates will be provided on the progress of the plan’s implementation.

Click here to see the presentation.

Long Range Board Calendar Updates:

  • Board Meeting on August 30
  • There will be no September Board Meeting
  • Board Meeting on October 4th

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