Updated August 28, 2023 - 1:56 pm
Three new Las Vegas-area charter schools are aiming to open next year after receiving state approval Friday.
The Nevada State Public Charter School Authority’s board considered six new school applications — five of which want to open in Clark County — and approved half of them.
The tuition-free public charter schools that were conditionally approved — Do &Be Arts Academy of Excellence, Pioneer Technology &Arts Academy and Vegas Vista Academy — plan to open in August 2024.
The board rejected applications for Mind Your Books, Thrive Point Academy of Nevada and Nevada Classical Academy in Elko because the schools did not meet minimum state requirements.
Here’s an overview of the three schools that were approved:
Pioneer Technology &Arts Academy
Pioneer Technology &Arts Academy previously applied multiple times but was rejected.
Now, the school plans to open with up to 257 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. School officials plan to gradually expand to 1,478 students through 12th grade.
The school operates campuses in Arizona, Colorado and Texas.
The school’s Nevada board member Rudy Pamintuan thanked charter authority Executive Director Rebecca Feiden for her leadership.
“It’s been a learning process,” he said, also noting it has been a “fun process of ups and downs.”
The authority’s board approved the school with conditions, including submitting plans for establishing a local board by Oct. 1, submitting a facility lease by Jan. 15, providing an update on performance of other affiliated schools each September through 2025, providing evidence by June 30, 2025, of a partnership with colleges or universities to offer dual credit programs and completing a pre-opening process for new charter schools.
Pioneer Technology &Arts Academy and its Colorado-based charter operator, SSS Education Corp., filed two lawsuits in March 2022 against the charter authority in Clark County District Court.
Both cases were dismissed later that year, online court records show.
At the time, the school said it had tried for two years to get approval to open a North Las Vegas campus.
The school alleged it had met statutory requirements to open but was unlawfully denied. It sought an injunction to require the state to allow it to open.
Do &Be Arts Academy of Excellence
Another charter school approved Friday was Do &Be Arts Academy of Excellence, which plans to open in North Las Vegas.
The school will serve up to 280 kindergarten through second graders, as well as sixth graders, during its first year. It aims to gradually expand to 630 students up through eighth grade.
Ninety percent of the school’s board members identify as people of color, proposed board vice chair Elysa Arroyo said.
“We are the living embodiment of the change we wish to bring,” she said.
The authority’s board approved the school with conditions, including that it must submit a lease for a facility by Jan. 15 and complete a pre-opening process for new charter schools.
Vegas Vista Academy
Vegas Vista Academy plans to serve up to 200 students in kindergarten through third grade initially. It aims to gradually expand through 12th grade.
The school’s curriculum will include “community service learning, bilingual fluency, and outdoor experiential education,” according to online meeting materials.
The school will also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
“VVA will give our community a clear view to a brighter future,” proposed board chair Victor Tavares said.
The authority’s board approved the school with conditions, including submitting a revised lottery policy and bylaws by Dec. 1, providing an additional budget scenario that provides more staff or contracted services for special education by Dec. 1, submitting facility lease by Jan. 15 and completing the pre-opening process for new charter schools.
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Charter authority director resigns
Rebecca Feiden, executive director of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority, is resigning effective Sept. 8. She was appointed to the job in April 2019 by then-Gov. Steve Sisolak.
During Friday’s board meeting, Feiden thanked the authority’s staff for their commitment and willingness to wear many hats within the small agency.
“Being a public servant is not always the easiest thing to do,” she said.
But Feiden — who was a teacher earlier in her career — said that while she has to make tough decisions sometimes, the job of being a teacher is the hardest. She said she appreciates the work of educators in schools.
The board heard an update on the search process for a new director, who’ll oversee about 80 campuses that serve more than 60,000 students.
A job announcement was posted last week. The executive director can be based in Las Vegas or Carson City.
The annual salary is up to $124,671, but the announcement notes the legislature has authorized an 11 percent cost of living adjustment that becomes effective July 1, 2024.