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North Las Vegas OKs up to $600K to continue home-school academy

North Las Vegas will have a new operator for its home schooling program for the upcoming school year.

The City Council voted Wednesday to enter into an educational support services agreement for up to $600,000 with Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy, a public charter school network founded in Texas.

Pioneer will operate the city’s Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy. Funding will come from federal coronavirus relief money the city has received.

Last week, the city announced the micro academy, which opened in August 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, will return for a second school year.

Enrollment is open to families who live in North Las Vegas or work in the city. The academy serves children in first through eighth grades, and participants must withdraw from their public schools.

There was an overwhelming demand from micro academy families for the program to continue, Assistant City Manager Delen Goldberg told council Wednesday.

The city put out a request for operators and received plenty of interest, she said.

Pioneer Technology & Arts Academy Superintendent Shubham Pandey told the council that the public charter school school is trying to replicate its science, technology, engineering and math-based model in different states.

PTAA already works with 100 Academy School of Engineering and Technology, a public charter school in North Las Vegas, Pandey said.

As for the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy, instructors will go through development training and receive STEM certifications, he said.

For the micro academy’s inaugural year, the nonprofit Nevada Action for School Options was the operator, and about 100 children participated.

President Don Soifer told the Review-Journal last week the nonprofit only intended to operate the program for one year as a pilot project. The organization will transition to serving in an advisory capacity, he said.

North Las Vegas city spokesman Patrick Walker said in an emailed statement last week to the Review-Journal: “Nevada Action for School Options is a fantastic partner that joined us in North Las Vegas to create a first in the nation model for education. We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done together and will continue to collaborate on ways to further educational equity in Southern Nevada.”

Pioneer school officials haven’t responded to a Review-Journal request for comment.

Pioneer is also trying to open a public charter school campus in the Las Vegas Valley and is looking at the North Las Vegas area as one option. The application, though, has been denied twice by the state.

PTAA is working with the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority on a high school charter program, Pandey told the North Las Vegas City Council.

PTAA wants to open a campus initially to kindergarten through eighth graders and gradually expand through 12th grade, according to its past charter applications.

The state charter authority’s board unanimously rejected the school’s application in November 2020, saying it didn’t meet minimum state requirements.

The school made changes to its application and resubmitted it, but the authority’s board voted 5-3 in January to deny approval again.

This spring, Pioneer submitted a nonbinding letter of intent with the state, meaning it may submit an application seeking approval to open for the 2022-23 school year.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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