By DR. LARRY MOSES
No one asked me but… The Nevada State Department of Education is getting into the charter school business. While they opened the move with a great deal of bluster, the high wind has dropped to less than a mild breeze.
The reform movement of the State Department, to take over failing schools in Nevada, has gone the way of all the Republican educational reforms of the last two years. Nowhere!
Originally the State Department was going to establish a whole new district within the state by taking over the failing schools of the seventeen school districts of Nevada. When they realized the magnitude of the project and ran into opposition from the districts, they modified their plan to attack the problem of failing schools in the Clark County School District.
They identified over 70 of the 357 schools in CCSD as failing schools. When the Clark County School District vehemently opposed the idea of a state take-over, the Department once again modified their goal to the take over of just six of the failing schools. They have once again modified their efforts and will take over no CCSD schools.
One might think that the CCSD would have welcomed the State Department take over of their failures. District test scores would have risen and the District’s graduate rates would skyrocket. But one would be wrong. CCSD launched a campaign designed to frighten the parents of the students who would be subject to the Charter Schools designated by the State Department.
The Nevada State Department’s Achievement School District was designed by the State Department in a manner that did not require the State Department to run the schools. The plan was to make schools available to six established for-profit charter school organizations. The plan ran into a snag when four of the six for-profit charter schools withdrew from the process. Two others were deemed not up to standards and eliminated. Therefore, there are no established charter school organizations willing to take over the failing CCSD schools.
I have stated this to give background to the real issue in the charter school problems in Nevada. While there are those who are looking at the possibility of a charter school in Moapa Valley, one must understand that to do so you will be sacrificing at least half of your tax support for the public charter school. While the students in the Clark County School District are supported by $16,884 per student, a public charter school receives about $10,000 less per pupil funding.
If a CCSD official reads this they will scream like a scaled dog. They will tell you that the average per pupil funding for CCSD schools is less than $8,000. This figure is based on General Fund dollars only. The District conveniently ignores over half of their budget when figuring the per pupil funding for the district.
When the dust settles, I would merely ask you to go to the final budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017. You will find the district claims 310,222 students funded at a total of $5,237,796,765. Do the math.
The District denies facility funding for the charter schools. The charter school must supply facilities out of what the District considers General Fund money.
However, the charter school parents pays the same taxes that the regular public school parent pays and should have access to those funds. The charter school parent helps pay the bonding expense of the district but does not receive any of the benefits thereof.
The State Department addressed the issue of facilities in NRS 388B.230 “An achievement charter school must continue to operate in the same building in which the school operated before being converted to an achievement charter school…the board of trustees of the school district in which the school is located must provide such use of the building without compensation.”
How important is this? Ask a charter school operating in CCSD how important it would be if they did not have to take instructional funds to pay for facilities. What is interesting is if one reads charter school law, it appears that charter schools are entitled to facilities money under the law. NRS 388A.411 states “… A charter school is entitled to receive its proportionate share of any other money available from federal, state or local sources that the school or the pupils who are enrolled in the school are eligible to receive.”
Again I will state that I am not an attorney, but I can read. It seems to say to me that the charter school is entitled to the same tax dollars that any other public school is on a per pupil basis.
Under California charter school law, some charter schools operate in the same building with regular public schools simultaneously. All California charter schools are entitled to the same funds as any other public school.
When I spoke to my son who is an educator involved in charter schools in California, he asked why this denial of facilities funds has not been challenged in court? That is a good question and the answer is fear. The Clark County School District makes up over 70 percent of the Nevada school system. Follow the money! Over 70 percent of State’s school monies comes from Clark County. They dominate all facets of Nevada Education. This explains why a school of 500 students is forced to compete athletically in a division with schools of over 2000 students.
Charter schools in Clark County exist only as long as the Clark County School Districts allows them to exist. While it is to the advantage of CCSD to have charter schools, they would not hesitate to attack any charter school that made a move to receive facilities money.
This domination of educational matters may be the greatest argument of why the Clark County School District should have been reorganized. In fact, it is a great argument as to why CCSD should have been broken up into at least 12 smaller districts of a little over 25,000 students each.
The Republican-controlled Legislative Committee to Reorganize the Clark County School District refused to use their majority to reform the District in any manner. The Committee gave up all reform for consensus. Consensus is easy to reach when the majority surrenders to the will of the minority.
Let me suggest to you that the Democrats now in control will not worry about consensus. They understand what a majority means.
Thought of the week…You don’t know what you don’t know until you realize you don’t know it.