Back to charter schools

Patrick Gibbons

Good news returns just in time for school. Over the past several months NPRI has criticized the Nevada State Board of Education for refusing to authorize new charter schools and called for an end to the moratorium. This past weekend, the Nevada State Board of Education ended the moratorium on approving new charter schools.

With this small step forward, NPRI hopes the state Legislature will work next year to expand and strengthen Nevada's charter school laws. With Nevada's charter school law ranking 22nd best out of 41 states that allow charter schools, there is still work to be done in increasing educational freedom in this state.

Nevada can improve and strengthen its charter school laws by adopting several successful measures operating in other states, including:

1)      Sponsorship: Increase the number of approved sponsors to include city and county governments and non-profit organizations.

2)      Expansion: Expand the types of schools that may become charter schools to include private schools and allow existing public schools to secede from school districts and become autonomous charter schools.

3)      Independence: Create a State Board for Charter Schools which is autonomous and separate from the State Board of Education, and which will approve, regulate and oversee new and existing charter schools.

4)      Self-Governance: Allow charter schools to self-govern and become independent of the school district if they so choose, and allow them complete fiscal autonomy.

5)      Freedom of Contract: Allow charter school teachers to work independently from collective bargaining agreements with the district and allow charter schools to negotiate merit pay for teachers as well as create retirement plans independent of the state's retirement system.

Nevada should also eliminate unnecessary "certification" requirements.  Nevada can eliminate the three-certified-teachers-per-application requirement, eliminate the requirement for certified teachers in charter schools, and allow charter schools the freedom to set whatever student-to-teacher ratio makes parents and students the happiest.