Nevada Ed-Watch 3/23/20

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.

Clark County School District Board of Trustees 

What is the Board of Trustees & what are they responsible for? The CCSD Trustees are publicly elected decision-makers for the school district. They are responsible for providing oversight to the Superintendent and establishing District-wide policy. Trustees are accountable to work with their communities to improve student achievement.

Click here to learn more and see a list of current Trustees

Click here to Find your Trustee District

How often does the Board of Trustees meet? Trustees meet twice per month (second and fourth Thursdays) at 5pm at the Edward A. Greer Education Center (Board Room): 2832 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89121.

Click here for a full list of Trustees meetings and agendas

Click here to visit Hope For Nevada’s #NVEd Calendar

Can community members engage at Trustee Meetings? Decision-making bodies benefit greatly from hearing public input and multiple perspectives. Community members can sign up to speak after the agenda has been posted– by calling the Board Office at (702) 799-1072 at least 3 hours before the scheduled meeting, or signing up in-person at the beginning of the meeting. Prior to each agenda item being voted on, speakers can share their perspective after the Board’s discussion and prior to the vote.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Clark County School District Board of Trustees Emergency Meeting

Click here to see the meeting agenda

What happened at this meeting?

Trustees Approved a Limited Grant of Authority for the District Superintendent

The approved limited Grant of Authority permits Superintendent Jara to approve contracts and purchase items that are essential to the operation of the District during COVID-19 school closures. 

The following items were approved during this meeting:

  1. Veritas Hardware and Software products and services
  2. Elevator inspection services
  3. Renewal of Eide Bailly as CCSD’s external independent financial auditing firm for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020
  4. Review of annual reports for Vegas PBS 
  5. Submission of proposals to the Oversight Panel for School Facilities 
  6. Payment to counsel for the CCSD v. Las Vegas Review-Journal case
  7. Payment of change orders and contracts associated with CCSD construction

Trustees Discussed Distance Learning Plans During COVID-19 Closures

Trustees approved a memo to submit to the Nevada Department of Education, which states that the District is making  best efforts to provide distance learning to students, in compliance with state mandates. Superintendent Jara shared updates on the District’s efforts to develop a Distance Learning Plan and offer students access to online learning. The Superintendent also discussed equity concerns related to a lack of internet access for all students. Additionally, 63% of Clark County School District students have access to an online device at home. 

The District’s Distance Learning Plan involves student learning packets that are available online, as well as printed packets available at food distribution sites. Trustees suggested using internet hotspots to access the internet. Trustees also suggested creating a system allowing students to check-out devices.

More discussion highlights regarding Distance Learning included:

  • Tracking virtual attendance among students
  • Measuring the impact of closures on the length of the school year
  • Ensuring on-time graduation for high school seniors
  • Partnering with internet service providers to offer unrestricted access for Clark County residents
  • Maintaining public transparency and consistency around communications between District administrators

District Staff Addressed Questions Asked by Members of the Community

Superintendent Jara and District staff members responded to the questions below that were submitted by members of the community. These questions will be compiled into an FAQ that will be available on the CCSD website.

  1. Are teachers required to call students? 
    Teachers are to make contact with students at least once a week (via e-mail, Google Hangouts, or a phone call), and document the engagement for attendance purposes. 
  2. How can students with no access to technology or the internet receive schoolwork?
    The district is exploring ways to ensure that all students have access to distance learning packets. Trustees also encourage community members to assist in printing and sharing resources with neighbors. 
  3. How will students earn credits towards graduation? 
    The Superintendent is reviewing a plan for credit earning for high school seniors, which will be provided to the public by Wednesday, March 25.
  4. When will a decision be made on reopening schools or remaining closed for an extended period of time? 
    Updates from Nevada’s Chief Medical Officer will be shared on a regular basis, as available.
  5. How will school events be executed? 
    The District is in the process of considering this. 
  6. What are the distance learning protocols and expectations for special education teachers?
    The District will review the guidance received by the state Department of Education to assist the most vulnerable children. Upon review, the information will be shared with District staff.
  7. What is the requirement for employees to log in and out every day? 
    All employees, including support staff, are required to log in and log out every day and communicate daily with their supervisors.
  8. What are the considerations for parents who are learning English to access resources? 
    The ELL department is working on developing solutions.
  9. Will charter schools follow the same guidelines for district distance learning?
     The district cannot enforce authority on charter school distance learning programs. [NOTE: charter school families can access information regarding distance learning offerings at individual school websites or through the State Public Charter School Authority].
  10. Have Nevada Academic Content Standards (NACS) been considered in the creation of the distance learning packets? How are parents being supported? 
    Yes, the packets are aligned to Nevada Academic Content Standards (NACS). Through Vegas PBS, a homework helpline will be available this week.
  11. Will the state waive licensing requirements for student teachers? 
    The District is working on this with the Nevada Department of Education.
  12. How do teachers without online services log in? 
    Contact the school leader and/or supervisor by phone.
  13. Will student packet work count against students? How will these packets be differentiated for AP and honors level students? 
    No, they will not count against students and will not be graded. The packets are aligned to the Nevada Academic Content Standards (NACS).
  14. What is being done for substitute teachers? 
    Substitutes in vacancy positions are being paid, but long-term substitutes are not receiving pay.
  15. Are teachers required to use personal cell phones to contact students? 
    Educators can contact students via email if they prefer. The District will explore Google Voice as a paid option.
  16. What do parents do if teachers have not yet contacted them? 
    Contact the school’s principal or a school administrator.
  17. Where are the weekly packets located on the CCSD website? 
    The packets are located on the landing page of the CCSD website
  18. Will outside contractors be allowed to work? 
    This is unknown at this time.

NOTE: Trustees announced that the next regular board meeting will take place on April 16th, 2020– following the cancellation of the March meeting.

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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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