Ten underperforming Clark County schools remain in the running for state intervention through the Achievement School District charter school initiative after a unanimous vote Thursday by the Nevada State Board of Education.
Three charter operators approved as part of the Achievement School District are currently scouting out areas of the county that they think would most benefit from a new school. The state board’s approval keeping all 10 schools previously identified as eligible for the program gives the operators more time to connect with the communities.
“We want to continue to give them the space and the time to continue those conversations and to find the right community for then. That’s the grounding for the motion,” said Brett Barley, the state’s deputy superintendent for student achievement.
By Feb. 1, the state will officially pair each of the three charters with one school on the list. The students at those schools will have priority to enroll in the new charters when they open in the fall. Afterward, students attending other schools in the county could apply for the remaining openings if they wish.
No takeovers planned
None of the charter operators was approved by the state to take over a traditional public school — an option under the law that created the School Achievement District. Last year, Clark County vehemently opposed a planned takeover, which never came to fruition.
In the end, Futuro Academy opened as a neighborhood option for Cambeiro Elementary school and Agassi Prep opted to have Democracy Prep assume control of the school.
This year, the charters will instead open to provide a new option for students at the struggling schools, said Rebecca Feiden, head of the Achievement School District, mirroring the Futuro model from last year.
The only immediate impact on the underperforming Clark County schools would be declines in enrollment if students leave for the charter schools.
Two of the approved charters, Nevada Rise Academy and Nevada Prep Charter School, are interested in opening in the east Las Vegas area. Both are new operators in the district and plan to open an elementary and middle school, respectively. They’re interested in working together to create a K-8 continuum in the future, Feiden said.
The other approved charter, Urban Prep Las Vegas, is seeking to open in the North Las Vegas area. The charter seeks to open an all-boys high school that would extend its existing charter network based in Chicago.
New school network advances
Board members also received an update on the state’s new Partnership Network initiative, which grew out of the Achievement School District. Schools eligible for the Partnership Network include schools eligible for the Achievement School District as well as other struggling Clark County schools.
The voluntary network seeks to combine existing resources at those schools and better leverage them to support students.
“It’s going to enhance what we’ve already started,” said Gina Harvey, principal at Earl Elementary School.
The new network is expected to debut in January, when schools get their budgets for the upcoming year.
Achievement School District options
The schools all performed in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide last year and have an average proficiency rate of 13.5 percent in Math and 21.7 percent in English language arts, according to the state. Mack Middle and Kelly Elementary also were considered for inclusion in the Achievement School District last year.
The ten schools still eligible to be paired with a charter operator for the 2017-18 year are:
— Detwiler Elementary.
— Hal Smith Elementary.
— Herr Elementary.
— Jerome Mack Middle.
— Johnston Middle.
— Kelly Elementary.
— Lynch Elementary.
— Manch Elementary.
— Reed Elementary.
— Ronzone Elementary.