AB 462, sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Education, would “prohibit the approval of an application to operate a charter school or the execution of a charter contract with the governing body of a new charter school,” by any of Nevada’s charter school authorizers, until 2021.
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools, open to any student, granted certain operating and hiring autonomy in exchange for demonstrating satisfactory student outcomes. More than half of Nevada charter schools earned a 4- or 5- star rating, the highest scores on Nevada’s school performance framework. Nearly 75 percent earned at least a 3- star rating.
Today, more than 50,000 Nevada elementary and secondary students attend charter schools located across the state. These schools are operated under the oversight and supervision of the State Public Charter School Authority, the Achievement School District (Clark County only), or individual school districts.
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Proposed Opportunity Scholarship Funding Cut
AB 458, also proposed by the Assembly Education Committee and referred to the Committee on Taxation, seeks to cut current funding to the Opportunity Scholarship Program by eliminating the ten percent annual escalator increase in present law.
Current law would provide $6,655,000 in available tax credits for Scholarship Grant Organizations to raise to fund scholarships for the 2018-19 school year, and $7,320,500 for 2019-20, with funding for future years to increase by ten percent annually. This proposal would limit available tax credits to fund the program at the 2018-19 level and strip out the annual increase.
Meanwhile, proposed SB 351, sponsored by Senator Heidi Seevers Gansert and 7 Republican colleagues, proposes to authorize up to $10 million in tax credits for each fiscal year, along with other changes. Neither of the two bills has been scheduled a hearing as of this writing.
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Would PreK Expansion Program Include Schools of Choice?
AB 253, sponsored by Assemblywomen Connie Munk and Daniele Monroe-Moreno, proposes to support increased program-level capacity for early childhood education. The bill as originally drafted had allowed all schools – traditional public, public charter, and private – to apply for resources to create or expand prekindergarten education programs.
But at Thursday’s Assembly Education meeting, the bill’s sponsors announced that they had amended the proposal at the last minute to exclude private schools from eligibility (although public charter schools would still be able to apply for grants).
Testimony in opposition of the plan by the United Way of Southern Nevada and others argued that the exclusion of private providers would compromise the proposed plan’s effectiveness to serve lower-income communities in Las Vegas. Chairman Tyrone Thompson observed that in his own experience, private, faith-based providers has much to offer underserved communities. Stay tuned.
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