Nevada Pushes for Single Charter School Authorizer

Published January 1, 2009

After the Nevada Board of Education ended an eight-month moratorium on new charter schools in early August, the state’s Department of Education is now proposing the legislature create an independent charter school authorizing group in 2009.

The Nevada Charter School Institute would oversee, sponsor, and regulate all charter schools statewide. Under current law, charter schools can be sponsored by local school districts, the state Board of Education, or public colleges and universities, said Tom McCormack, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Education.

The state board is the only entity that can make regulations regarding charter schools. If the institute is approved, it will take on those responsibilities.

According to a Nevada work session document, the proposal is to establish a statewide charter school board with the authority to “approve or deny applications for state-sponsored charter schools, and to sponsor charter schools, including the authority to revoke a charter school that it has sponsored.”

The new institute could be up and running by 2010, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Keith Rheault told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for an October 8 story. The plan, he said, is to make the institute self-supporting within five years by charging administrative fees to charter schools. Rheault estimates the institute would cost $326,000 the first year and $390,000 in the second.

The institute would have its own board of directors, appointed by various government officials. According to the work session document, it will consist of seven members appointed for staggered terms:

* two members (not to be legislators) appointed by the Senate majority leader;
* two members (not to be legislators) appointed by the speaker of the Assembly;
* two members appointed by the governor; and
* one member appointed by a state charter school association.

Elisha Maldonado ([email protected]) writes from California.