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Henderson, North Las Vegas win approval to sponsor charter schools

Henderson and North Las Vegas soon will be able to sponsor and oversee charter schools, after the Nevada Department of Education gave its blessing to both cities this week.

Both cities are approved to implement charter schools for the 2025-2026 school year.

Assembly Bill 400, signed into law by Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo in 2023, granted cities and counties the ability to sponsor charter schools, a power previously held only by the State Public Charter School Authority, school districts and colleges.

“This critical charter school expansion effort will give more students a chance to access the educational settings that best fit their needs — regardless of their zip code,” Lombardo said in a statement.

With schools come responsibilities

In an email statement, the Nevada Department of Education said Henderson and North Las Vegas would be responsible for the schools they choose to sponsor and the establishment of a board of trustees, or a school board.

“The announcement of Henderson and North Las Vegas as charter school authorizers is expected to impact up to 7 percent of school-aged children,” the statement said.

That 7 percent enrollment cap means the cities of Henderson and North Las Vegas can only take 7 percent of the total number of students in their cities’ schools for charter enrollment, according to Henderson Education Initiatives Officer Tara Phebus.

“We have kind of an idea of the number of schools we can have, but the limiting factor that we have is that we are capped at 7 percent of CCSD’s enrollment for the number of students that can be in schools within our portfolio,” she said.

The city of Henderson was “thrilled” about AB 400 because it allows the city to provide more local input and influence within the community’s schools, she said. As a charter school authorizer, Henderson will be able to develop and implement an application process for charter schools coming into the community, as well as act as an oversight body.

‘Quality education’ priority

Such an oversight body will monitor the outcomes of charter schools within the city and confirm those schools are meeting the performance standards that were agreed upon during the application process, Phebus said.

Phebus cited “quality education” as one of Henderson’s strategic priorities. Quality education is defined and measured in multiple “opportunity areas,” which aim to ensure high quality preschool programs, provide support to the city’s K-12 system and ensure high school students are college and career ready.

Henderson believes charter schools will aid this effort and provide students with the necessary opportunities to “live their best lives.”

“It’s really a great way for us to be able to be responsive to community needs, in terms of the types of schools, the grade levels for schools,” Phebus said.

‘Increase the level of versatility and offerings’

The city of North Las Vegas also supported AB 400 because it offers the city the ability to advance the state of its education system, said Wilson Ramos, director of the city’s Community Services and Engagement Department.

“We anticipate to offer guidance and support by way of our relationships, our service providers, and our knowledge as it pertains to education to increase the level of versatility and offerings that the charter schools that we’ll be sponsoring will bring to our city,” Ramos said.

To open charter schools in North Las Vegas, the city will form a charter sponsor review committee, comprised of city employees, who will review charter school applications and select the most promising submissions, he said.

The city will not be responsible for staffing the school or developing its curriculum, but Ramos said it’s the city’s job to ensure those things have taken place and offer assistance where possible.

North Las Vegas sees charter schools as an alternative for students because of the 7 percent enrollment cap.

“We don’t anticipate authorizing a substantial amount of kiddos,” Ramos said. “This is just going to be an alternative option for them to seek greater guidance.”

Ramos said the city is taking a robust approach to the charter application process by looking at best practices all over the United States and implementing them into the application process. In terms of specializations within charter schools, North Las Vegas is looking at “everything,” Ramos said.

The Clark County School District Board of Trustees voted to end its sponsorships with charter schools in the district at a May 16 meeting. The board submitted a notice of withdrawal to the Nevada Department of Education, with an effective date of June 30, 2026, a date that aligns with the current charter contracts in the district.

CCSD hasn’t yet responded to request for comment about where this decision leaves the district, but it did share information about the district’s withdrawal from sponsoring charters.

The school district said the sponsorship withdrawal will allow it to “focus its limited resources on District students.”

Contact Ella Thompson at ethompson@reviewjournal.com. Follow her on X @elladeethompson.

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