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Nevada’s new charter school authority begins work to expand educational opportunities


By Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau: Gov. Brian Sandoval described today’s first meeting of the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority as “historic,” and he called on the new group formed as a result of 2011 legislation to help expand charter schools to provide more choice to parents and students.

Sandoval spoke at the first meeting of the panel, one of only 10 in the country solely dedicated to the development and oversight of charter schools.

“This is the first meeting of its kind in the history of the state of Nevada,” Sandoval said. “I also wanted to comment that I hope the authority will help raise the bar on accountability and performance of our charter schools and help grow the charter school sector in our public education system.

“As I’m sure you all saw, the reforms of 2011 have moved the state of Nevada higher in most rankings of the charter school environment, and I do believe that we can do more,” he said. “I’m looking forward to hearing the board’s recommendations for ways to improve the charter school law so that we can continue to move upwards in the rankings.”

Sandoval will also soon be appointing a new state superintendent of public instruction, and he said he expects the appointee will work closely with the charter school authority to continue to improve the K-12 system.

“I think we’re all here for the same reason, we want to provide the best education possible for the children of the state of Nevada, to provide parents and children with choice and the opportunity to seek an education that best meets their needs,” he said.

Nevada’s new charter school authority, the result of Senate Bill 212, strengthened the state’s charter school law in a recent ranking by a national organization.

Last month the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Nevada 20th among the states for its charter school law, an improvement from its 23rd ranking in a prior review.

Nevada has 31 charter schools with about 10,000 students, making it the third largest school district in the state after Clark and Washoe counties, said Steve Canavero, director of the authority.

Fifteen of the schools are under the sponsorship of the authority. The Clark, Carson City and Washoe school districts also sponsor charter schools.

At its first meeting, the board elected Kathleen Conaboy, a member of the Government Affairs Group, a subsidiary of the statewide law firm of McDonald Carano Wilson, as the chairwoman.

Other members are Robert McCord, associate professor of education leadership at the University of Nevada Las Vegas; Elissa Wahl, president of Rise Resource Center, a Las Vegas nonprofit that offers support to families who home school their kids; Nora Luna, the Hispanic/Latino program manager for Nathan Adelson Hospice; Melissa Mackedon, one of the founders of the Oasis Academy, a charter school in Fallon that opened in 2011; Marc Abelman, a member of the board of the Quest Academy; and attorney Michael Van.

Audio clips:

Gov. Brian Sandoval calls the first meeting of the authority historic:

0210Sandoval1 :13 to charter schools.”

Sandoval says he hopes the authority will help raise the bar on charter school accountability and performance:

021012Sandoval2 :22 can do more.”

Sandoval says Nevada’s charter school law is improved but the state can do more:

021012Sandoval3 :09 in the rankings.”

Sandoval says the goal is to provide choice and the best education possible:

021012Sandoval4 :17 meets their needs.”

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