February 9, 2022

Historic Vote Makes City a Charter School Operator
In a first, the Nevada State Public Charter School Board has voted to approve the City of Las Vegas to operate its own public charter school. The Board’s vote was unanimous and enthusiastic. Board Chair Melissa Mackedon acknowledged that Las Vegas may be the first city to open a charter school, but it might not be the last.

“The city of Las Vegas will ‘show Nevadans how cities can support education,’” she said.

Support for the school is also strong at the local level. The Las Vegas City Council previously voted 6-1 in favor of submitting the charter application. The only “nay” vote came from Council President, Cedric Crear, who is currently running for mayor.

The city will open “Strong Start” Public Charter Elementary School this summer with 180 students in grades kindergarten through second grade, expanding in subsequent years up to fifth grade. As a charter school, Strong Start will receive per pupil dollars from the state’s education budget. It will receive additional financial support from the City of Las Vegas, which has already committed $1 million in startup funds toward the project. Additionally, the city will cover all facility costs for the charter school. Initially, the school will co-locate with the city’s existing tuition-free preschool programs. But the plan is to eventually secure a permanent facility, which would also be city-owned and maintained. At its meeting next week, Las Vegas City Council will be asked to transfer the committed $1 million in support funding to the nonprofit organization the city created to formally run the school. April Corbin Girnus, City of Las Vegas Approved to Open Charter School, Nevada Current, January 31, 2022

Public CTE Charter Schools are a Key Part of the Plan
Five Florida colleges will share $10 million from the state to help them establish and operate Career and Technical Education (CTE) charter schools. The funds are intended to allow new public charter school students to earn credentials and college credit while in high school, as a way to strengthen Florida’s economic base. The charter schools also will offer apprenticeships, and cybersecurity and IT training. The grants are part of Governor Ron DeSantis’ “Building Florida’s Future” program, which calls for an $89 million investment in workforce programs. The colleges that will soon be operating CTE charter schools are: Miami Dade College, Northwest Florida State College, Tallahassee Community College, Santa Fe College, and St. Petersburg College. John Henderson, DeSantis Announces $10M for Workforce Charter Schools at NWFSC, Colleges Across State, The Gainesville Sun, February 2, 2022
Annual Completed Deals Have Doubled in Number Since 2015!
2021 was a record year for charter school financings. The industry saw over $5 billion of publicly reported volume across 200+ closed transactions. In its Year-End Update, WyeRiver Group provides a detailed look at charter school financings completed in the public markets in 2021. Read the entire report here.
Democrat Hopes Third Time is the Charm for Native American Charter Schools
It’s South Dakota State Senator Troy Heinert’s third try at both creating charter schools for Native American students and getting the state to fund them. This year, he may be getting somewhere, as the state's Senate Education Committee last Thursday passed SB 139 by a vote of six to one. The legislation would create four community-based charter schools for children of the Oceti Sakowin tribe. The bill also provides criteria for the charter schools to receive state funding. Senator Heinert says the current system for Native American students isn’t enough.
“60 years of stagnant numbers for Native American kids, and now we have some of these schools that are operating, but they’re operating on peanuts... We’re begging and borrowing for money, but they’re doing great things,” Heinert said. He’s hopeful that this is the year the bill will make it to the Governor’s desk. Staff, Bill Creating Community-Based Schools for Native Americans Reintroduced at Legislature, Dakota News Now, February 3, 2022

Now Labor is Coming for Him
The new “Texans for Better Democrats Coalition,” made up of three progressive groups tied to organized labor (the Texas Organizing Project, Communications Workers of America and the Working Families Party), is planning to spend big to beat a moderate Texas Democrat who often breaks with Democrats to support charter schools. The coalition is throwing its weight behind Candis Houston, who is currently the president of the American Federation of Teachers in Aldine, Texas. They plan to spend at least $250,000 to beat Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston and two other moderate incumbents. Dutton has the backing of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, which works to reelect incumbents, but so far, Dutton has just $73,000 in the bank as of Jan. 20th. Patrick Svitek, Progressive Group Wants to Oust Two House Democrats in March 1 Primary, The Texas Tribune, February 7, 2022

New Studies Find Charter School Attendance Positively Impacts Voter Turnout!
Charter schools in Boston, considered some of the strongest in the country, improve voter participation as well as academic outcomes, according to a recently released study. The effects are significant in size and may be attributable to charters’ success in inculcating non-cognitive skills, the authors find. The study, circulated as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, represents the latest evidence pointing to some charters as institutions that strengthen civic engagement. A paper published last year that focused on North Carolina schools found lasting benefits to traditionally underserved students, including more frequent voting and reduced criminality, for those who attended a charter secondary school rather than a traditional public school. And both studies echo the findings of a separate analysis of the civics-focused Democracy Prep public charter schools. Graduates of that network, which operates over 20 schools across five states, were 12 percentage points more likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election than similar students, according to that study, and substantially more likely to be registered as voters. Kevin Mankhen, Boston Study Offers Latest Evidence that Charter Schools Boost Voting, The 74 Million, January 31, 2022
School Improvement Partnership improves transparency and accountability in the charter school bond market. The School Improvement Partnership Database (or SIP Database) contains financial, academic and operating data on charter schools and charter school borrowers around the country. It is being built out to include all charter schools and charter school borrowers in the coming months. From each financial audit for a CMO or charter school, the SIP Database contains 50 financial data points, always refreshing automatically to include the three most recent years. The SIP Database has a dashboard for subscribers that displays requested data points in an easy-to read-fashion, and such data can be exported in Excel from the SIP Database to the subscriber. Please view our website or call us at 215.854.6322.
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