Next Up Blog

On August 18, the new TOTS grant program received the final approval necessary from the legislative Interim Finance Committee. As a result, the Nevada State Treasurer will being enacting the program imminently, awarding $5,000 tax-free grants, with a wide range of allowable uses, to families for each eligible special-needs child. Program applications will open soon for families – the most recent agency estimate is that it will open to receive applications the week after Labor Day.

Grants will be made through the ABLE Savings program administered by the Nevada State Treasurer, so interested families should strongly consider opening an ABLE account right away.  The total program budget of $5 million will go quickly, and we don’t want families in need to don’t miss out.

All learners under 18 years of age with special needs are eligible, regardless of where they receive their schooling.  Funds will be available to families for a wide range of educational needs, including the costs of tutoring, microschooling and services available through diverse education providers, assistive technology, even transportation.

Families must apply in two parts – first to set up an ABLE account, second to apply for a TOTS grant.

Note: ABLE Account requirements state that in order to open an account, a family must have a letter from a licensed physician affirming that disability “is of a level of severity that meets the Social Security Act disability standard.” The letter is not required to be submitted, simply maintained in family records.

We will be running office hours and special events in Las Vegas and Reno in the coming weeks to help families enroll and to answer questions.  Contact us for information or questions at info@nevadaaction.org or 702-202-3573 for information.

Special thanks to Senator Scott Hammond for his championing this program down the stretch during the legislative session. “I was thankful that the leadership of the majority party was willing to work with me to create this valuable opportunity for our special needs learners during the final days of the session,” said Senator Hammond.  “The pandemic made it difficult for all families to keep their children’s learning on track, and especially for children with disabilities.  This special program of assistance will make a valuable difference for all of Nevada’s community of special needs learners, including those who homeschool or attend nonpublic schools.”

This article updated August 26, 2021.

Ten miles north of the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, one of the nation’s more powerful beacons for the future of schooling completed its first academic year in comparably stunning fashion.

The Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy (SNUMA), the first-of-its-kind public private partnership micro-school designed to tackle pandemic learning loss, has operated in person every school day. Clark County public schools, meanwhile, operated a distance-learning program that few felt was working close to optimally.

North Las Vegas is one of Nevada’s poorest and fastest-growing cities. Residents and the public officials who serve them have complained for decades about being underserved by their massive school district, the fifth largest in the nation. Three out of four children who attended SNUMA last year arrived at the start of the year and six months into the pandemic at least two grade levels behind in their mastery of English language arts and math.

So, it was even more valuable when 100% of SNUMA students made at least one full year’s academic growth during the year in reading/English language arts, and 87% posted at least two years’ growth.

The results in math were comparable, if slightly muted; 92% finished the year having accomplished at least one school year’s academic growth in math, and 35% completed at least two years of academic growth.

The most striking results came from the program’s third and fourth grades. Every one of them who attended for the full year accomplished at least two years of academic growth in English language arts. In math, all accomplished at least one full year’s academic math growth, and 75% completed at least two years of math growth.

Read here for the complete article as published on RedefinED

Join our free, Thursday evening event series for all current and future microschooling and homeschool coop leaders, and for parents interested in joining this exciting, burgeoning edu-movement.

An opportunity to meet together with some of Vegas’ most interesting microschooling models and leaders, learn from each other and discuss ideas.  RSVPs required for health safety reasons to ashley@nevadaaction.org or 702-202-3573. Door prizes and snacks.

Learn more about microschooling at MicroschoolingNV.

Microschooling Leaders Connections with MicroschoolingNV

Thursday, 6pm July 8th

At Nevada Action for School Options, 6625 South Valley View Boulevard, Suite 422, Las Vegas, NV 89118

An important development for Nevada’s families of children with special needs emerged in the final hours of this legislative session.

A provision inserted into SB 461 by Senator Scott Hammond created a $5 million fund for grants to children with disabilities.  These funds can be accessed for a wide range of education-related purposes to confront learning loss, including in-person or online tutoring, assistive or other technology, career training or even transportation.

All learners under 18 years of age with special needs are eligible, regardless of where they receive their schooling.  The grant program utilizes funding from the federal American Rescue Plan and will be administered by the Nevada Treasurer’s office via the ABLE Savings Program.

Maximum grant amounts and other details will be made public in the coming weeks.

“I was thankful that the leadership of the majority party was willing to work with me to create this valuable opportunity for our special needs learners during the final days of the session,” said Senator Hammond.  “The pandemic made it difficult for all families to keep their children’s learning on track, and especially for children with disabilities.  This special program of assistance will make a valuable difference for all of Nevada’s community of special needs learners, including those who homeschool or attend nonpublic schools.”

Today’s ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court issued a clear declaration that legislated increases to tax revenue require a two-thirds supermajority vote in order to remain constitutional, but supporters of school choice were left disappointed when the decision left untouched other provisions of the problematic law which undermined popular choice programs.

The decision reversed parts of a law, SB551, passed in the final hour of the 2019 Nevada legislative session along straight party lines, that increased tax revenue in different ways.  This has substantial implications for a state budget that relies on that revenue (about $100 per biennium) and also for future legislative deliberations with an eye on new tax dollars.

School choice advocates had hoped that the highly-anticipated ruling would strike down SB551 in its entirety, while the court instead decided to include in its scope only those sections that directly addressed the funding increases.

The most impactful of the law’s restrictions on school choice addressed Nevada’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, interpreted as mandating that only students who had received scholarships for the previous school year would be eligible for new scholarships, and only then only from the same scholarship organization.

Another provision in SB551 eliminated the Education Savings Account program from statute.

The law in question was also harmful to Nevada’s state charter schools, with a provision that excluded them from $72 million in supplemental support for other Nevada public schools.

These three school choice programs have consistently registered by Nevadans as among the most popular among all policy programs.  In a poll published by Nevada Action for School Options during the last legislative session, seven out of ten Nevada Hispanics and African-Americans registered their support for the Opportunity Scholarship program (with support even higher among parents with school-aged children within both groups).

Among parents of school-aged children, 80 percent indicated that the Education Savings Account program, as well as Opportunity Scholarships, should be available to all families, regardless of their household income levels.

Nevadans have also remained strong supporters of charter schools, with 70 percent of Hispanic and 69 percent of African-American respondents in support of these public school options.

These findings are aligned with numerous other scientific polls in recent years.

It can be hoped that state lawmakers, avid studiers of trends in popular opinion, will register this striking disconnect between the strong popularity of school choice programs among Nevadans and the agendas of the leaders responsible for the anti-choice measures in SB551, and look for opportunities to move toward strengthening diverse school options for more Nevada families.