Here are the legislative changes recently enacted in Nevada, designed to implement charters, vouchers, test-based teacher evaluations, merit pay, and almost every other idea in the ALEC bucket list of how-to-create-chaos-in-public-schools-and-encourage-privatization.
This post was written by “Nevada Succeeds,” a corporate reform group.
Below my email signature is our weekly Implementation Update; we hope this serves as a useful tool for the community as we continue to monitor the progress made on implementation and regulation of key policies that have come out of the 2015 Legislative Session. Every week, we will adjust the list to put the bills that have undergone recent changes at the top.
In this issue, we have categorized each bill into a one of five main areas of focus which will provide more clarity as to how each piece of legislation relates to the broader agenda.. Below you will see a key highlighting the color that indicates these new groupings:
Green: Teacher Pipeline
Red: Targeted Funding
Orange: Private Choice
Purple: Other Education Changes
We are trying to get all of the information right, so if there are any corrections or additions, then please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy Director, Nevada Succeeds
P: (702) 483-7096
Education Savings Accounts (SB 302)
This bill is being regulated by the Treasurer’s Office. There was a hearing earlier today (Friday July 17th) to make two modifications to the rule that requires students to be fully enrolled in a district or charter school for at least 100 days before gaining the ESA. First, they are going to say that even though the program does not begin until January 4, 2016, students who were enrolled in public schools for at least 100 days in the 2014-15 school year and switch to a non-public option for the 2015-16 school year are eligible for the program. Additionally, the proposed regulations would say that a student only needs to take at least one course at a public school for 100 days to become eligible. The proposed regulations were supported by a majority of the speakers aside from the teachers union and Educate Nevada Now.
On Thursday July 9th, the Treasurer’s Office announced that the payment of the ESA will occur in the first week after the end of a quarter. Therefore, the first ESA payments will be at the beginning of April for the first quarter of 2016. In August or September, they will have a broader public hearing discussing reimbursement options (debit cards as in Arizona or expense reports as in Florida) and other regulatory matters. Those additional regulatory matters will have a hearing in August or September.
Teacher Evaluation (AB 447)
The Department of Education and the Teachers and Leaders Council will be working on the rules and regulations around this bill. One aspect of this bill included a tweak to the language, lowering the percentage that student test scores count in a teacher’s evaluation from 50% to 40% since our state and local tests were not yet ready. At the July 23rd State Board of Education meeting, there will be a discussion around the board’s role with this bill. The next TLC meeting is on August 26th and there should be a regulatory workshop scheduled by the Department in the near future.
Read by 3rd Grade (SB 391)
The Department of Education is in charge of setting up these regulations. At the July 23rd State Board of Education meeting, there will be action around creating the Request for Proposal (RFP) for the program’s assessment tool along with guidelines around learning strategists and professional development. It’s unclear if there will be one or multiple approved assessments. Apparently, the Department is going to recommend the use of an adaptive assessment as it will help students prepare for the Smarter Balanced Exams. There is also a regulatory workshop
Collective Bargaining Changes (SB 241)
The largest changes here are to school administrators. The employees who makes over 120K per year are now excluded from the bargaining unit but it’s unclear if they will be able to retain their health care benefits. It’s also unclear when the 5 year at-will cycles will start for each employee. That must be clarified in the coming months. Additionally, this bill ended the evergreen clause, which should favor management in labor negotiations.
While changes resulting from this bill have been seen outside of the education arena, it has become a major issue in CCSD contract negotiations. On Thursday July 16th, CCSD management used this bill as one of the main reasons for not allowing for step and columns increases to occur as scheduled since a new collective bargaining agreement had not been signed. Needless to say, teachers were not exactly pleased with this rationale and protested in large numbers at the July 16th board meeting.
School Construction (SB 119, SB 207)
These bills passed the legislature fairly early in the legislative session allowing for a ten-year bond rollover for school districts with bonding capacity. At this time, CCSD appears to be the only district in the state to take advantage of the program. At the CCSD Bond Oversight Committee meeting on Thursday July 16th, CCSD now says that only 6 schools will open in 2017 and 6 will open in 2018. Now, Rex Bell Elementary School appears to be the only school that will go under a full replacement. That should be ready in 2017.
Data Privacy (SB 463, AB 221)
The districts and the State Charter Authority are designing their data security plans that will need to be approved by the Nevada Department of Education. On Wednesday July 15th, the P20W Council met for the first time in two years and announced that the statewide longitudinal data system will be ready for use by schools, NSHE, DTER, and researchers by the end of the month.
Alternate School Framework (SB 460)
All schools under the State Charter Authority are beginning to update their contracts to reflect the changes coming from this law around closure and possible qualification for an alternate school performance framework. A regulatory hearing on this bill is scheduled for Tuesday September 15th.
Charter Reforms (SB 509)
The Charter Authority issued a new charter application on June 22nd, which requires applicants to file a Letter of Intent by August 14th and a full application by the end of August. The earliest the Authority will award a charter for the 2016-17 school year is in the fall. CMOs will not be able to gain a charter until January 2016 since not all of SB509 goes in effect until then. All schools under the State Charter Authority are beginning to update their contracts to reflect the changes coming from this law.
Non-Citizen Teachers (AB 27)
The Department of Education has begun accepting teacher licensure applications from non-citizens in Clark County. The first applications have been processed successfully.
Zoom Schools (SB 405)
On Thursday July 16th, CCSD approved the following 29 schools to be Zoom Schools in the 2015-16 school year: Arturo Cambeiro, Manuel J. Cortez, Lois Craig, Jack Dailey, Ollie Detwiler, Ruben P. Diaz, Ira J. Earl, Elbert Edwards, Fay Herron, Halle Hewetson, Robert Lunt, Ann Lynch, Reynaldo Martinez, William K. Moore, Paradise Professional Development, Dean Petersen, Vail Pittman, Bertha Ronzone, Lewis E. Rowe, C.P. Squires, Stanford, Myrtle Tate, Twin Lakes, Gene Ward, Rose Warren, and Tom Williams. The following three secondary schools will be Zoom Schools for the 2015-2016 school year: William E. Orr Middle School, Del H. Robison Middle School, and Global Community High School at Morris Hall. Additionally, the Department of Education will be administering the funds for the rural districts and the charter schools. We are still waiting to hear the new Zoom Schools from Washoe County.
At the July 23rd meeting of the State Board of Education, they will discuss recruitment and retention incentives for these schools.
Opportunity Scholarships (AB 165)
The temporary regulations for this program were created at the end of June. Groups such as Students First, the American Federation for Children, the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and ourselves advocated for a preference for students whose families are at/or below 185% of the poverty line and for a preference for students currently enrolled in public schools. After much fighting from the private schools in the state, the Department of Education decided to solely make decisions based on the income levels of students. Therefore, the program is pretty much first-come, first-serve. There is a tiebreaker on the day when the scholarship organization runs out of funds to prioritize siblings and students zoned for lower star schools. The scholarship students must take nationally-normed referenced tests to measure student outcomes but are not required (or even expected) to take the Smarter Balanced exams. These temporary regulations were approved on Thursday June 25th. After the program’s first enrollment period, there will be a review in the fall for more permanent regulations.
On July 1st, both scholarships organizations and private schools could begin to sign up for the program. So far, only AAA Scholarships has been approved by the Nevada Department of Education and they are currently raising funds for their organization. 20 private schools have signed up so far as eligible recipients of the funds. Parents should be able to apply to AAA (and possibly other scholarship granting organizations) by early August. The permanent regulations will begin to be drafted at a hearing on Thursday August 13th.
School Performance Plans (AB 30)
There will be a number of updates to the School Performance Plans coming from the Nevada Department of Education with a focus on literacy rates, especially among ELLs.
Charter School Police Officers (AB 321)
We will be tracking if any charter schools enter into policing agreements as a result of this bill.
Expanded Charter School Bonding (AB 351)
We will be tracking if any 3 star charter schools go to the Board of Examiners and are able to get approval for state facility bonds.
Washoe County School Construction Tax Committee (SB 411)
The Washoe County School Board has approved the selection process for committee members. The full committee should be unveiled by Wednesday July 22nd, and they will begin to meet soon afterwards. This committee is tasked with coming up with a possible revenue raising measure for capital projects in Washoe County to be put forward to the voters in 2016.
Great Teaching and Leading Fund (SB 474)
On Tuesday July 7th, the Department of Education released the application for the Great Teaching and Leading Fund for FY16. They announced that $2 million will go towards implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, $1 million for the Nevada Educator Performance Framework, $1 million for teacher recruitment, development, and retention, and $900,000 for leadership development. Eligible applicants include the RPDPs, school districts, charter schools, the Charter School Authority, NSHE, the educator associations and nonprofits. The application window closes on Friday July 31st. The fund winners for FY16 will be announced at the State Board of Education meeting on Thursday September 3rd.
SAGE Commission (AB 421)
It has been announced that the Governor’s Business Roundtable on Education Reform will be combined with the SAGE (Spending and Government Efficiency) Commission. Nevada Succeeds backed that measure during the session. The Department of Education will staff the commission. The members and the first meeting date have yet to be announced.
Multicultural Education (AB 234)
The regulations for this bill will be handled by the Commission on Professional Standards. Their next meeting is on Wednesday July 29th.
Achievement School District (AB 448)
On July 1st, the website for the Achievement School District (ASD) launched. This month, the Department of Education is actively seeking charter management organizations to apply to take over struggling district schools for the 2016-17 school year. The application window closes on Friday July 31st.
A national search firm has been hired to conduct the Executive Director search, and their goal is to hire an ED by the end of September. The initial staff of the ASD will only be an ED, a program officer, and a secretary. All positions will be based in Las Vegas. There will be a rulemaking hearing on Thursday August 27th at the Department of Education.
Victory Schools (SB 432)
Before the end of the session, the state created the list of Victory Schools. Each school must file a letter of intent by August 15th and a full implementation plan for FY16 by September 15th. With the exception of schools in the Turnaround Zone, CCSD is creating a new zone for Victory Schools. At the July 23rd meeting of the State Board of Education, they will discuss recruitment and retention incentives for these schools.
Charter Harbormaster (SB 491)
The Department of Education is expected to issue an RFP for the harbormaster by September 1st. Once the RFP window closes, the Board of Examiners will make a decision on which organization will become the state-funded harbormaster.
Teacher Performance Pay (AB 483)
This bill does not go into effect until the 2016-17 school year. In 2016, the districts will have to submit their plans on how they will comply with the bill to the Department of Education.
New Teacher Bonuses (SB 511)
Each district in the state has already submitted a plan to the Department of Education on how they want to administer the new bonuses. For example, CCSD requested $9.5 million of the available $10 million for FY16 to pay the maximum $5000 bonus to a teacher at every eligible school (behavior schools are not eligible for the program since they do not receive Title I funds-much to the dismay of the districts). CCSD plans to pay the $5000 in 20 segments of $250 over the course of the year. Some districts are paying the entire bonus up front and others are doing half at the beginning of the year and the other half at the end of the year. Due to PERS, all bonuses will be stipends. On July 23rd, the State Board of Education will make a decision on the district allocation.
On the university scholarship side of this bill, funds will not be available for the program until January. There is currently a lack of clarification of exactly who is and who is not eligible for the program due to the start of funding. Programs will apply to the Department of Education for funding and then the program will distribute the funds.
New Nevada Plan (SB 508)
A regulatory hearing on this bill is scheduled for Tuesday August 25th to discuss the Special Education funding weight along with other possible topics. The Department of Education is required to produce an update on base and weighted funding formula over the interim.
A regulatory hearing on this bill is scheduled for Thursday August 27th. In related news, 15 CCEA teachers are sueing CCSD over the changes to post-probationary status and that court case will likely affect this bill.
Teacher Supply Reimbursement (SB 133)
The districts will set up their own systems for teacher supply reimbursement and the Department of Education will send each district and charter school their share of the funds ($5 million over the biennium).
Peer Assistance and Review (SB 332)
The Department of Administration will send $1 million each year of the biennium to CCSD to ensure that the program is funded. We will continue to monitor this program in the Turnaround Zone to ensure that it is effective and a good use of taxpayer money.
CCSD Deconsolidation (AB 394)
In the fall, the Legislative Commission will appoint the 9 members (2 members from each caucus from Clark County along with an additional Republic) of the main Committee that will meet over the course of 2016.