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Charter applicant Imagine School under Dept. of Ed. scrutiny

A charter school applicant came under scrutiny today as Nevada education officials questioned whether it mishandled more than $50,000 in federal funds.

Imagine School at Mountain View got a $150,000 planning grant but spent a third of it after a June 30 deadline for using the money. An additional $25,000 that was earmarked for library books was actually used for furniture, said Bill Arensdorf, who supervises charter schools for the Nevada Department of Education.

“This we cannot allow,” Arensdorf said during a state Board of Education meeting. “So we have a problem with that.”

Kimberly Rushton, a lawyer representing Imagine School at Mountain View, disputed Arensdorf’s findings as “fallacies,” and argued that they involved differences in interpretation regarding accounting issues.

But she said the school’s governing board was willing to postpone its request for a tentative charter until it resolved its budget issues with the state.

At the same meeting, the Board of Education gave tentative charter approval to a different applicant, Imagine School at Las Vegas, as long as it fulfilled stipulations regarding its budget, insurance and some contingency planning.

Charter schools are a hybrid of public and private schools. They offer free tuition and receive the same per-pupil public funding based on enrollment as regular public schools, but they’re overseen by private foundations or parent groups that typically contract with an educational management organization.

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