Charter School Authority approves additional $1.2m in transportation funding, $4.7m remains
Members of the Charter School Board have expressed concern that any such reversion will send a message to state lawmakers that charter schools don’t want or need dedicated transportation funding. (April Corbin Girnus/Nevada Current)
The Nevada State Public Charter School Authority Board on Friday approved an additional $1.2 million in transportation funding — bringing the total in awarded funds to $2.3 million, still far short of the $7 million available this academic year.
Jennifer Bauer, the interim executive director for the SPCSA, told the Charter School Board staff is providing “intense support” to schools in hopes of seeing them apply for the $7 million in available funding, which was established through an omnibus education bill sponsored by Gov. Joe Lombardo and subject to heavy negotiations with legislative Democrats. An additional $7 million will be available for the 2024-25 school year.
The SPCSA originally set a Sept. 30 deadline for applying for the dedicated transportation funding. They have since opened a ‘round two’ and set a new deadline of Jan. 1, 2024.
Any unspent dollars will revert back to the state. Members of the Charter School Board have expressed concern that any such reversion will send a message to state lawmakers that charter schools don’t want or need dedicated transportation funding.
Bauer said the tight time frame for applying and implementing a transportation plan has been a major hurdle for schools, as have concerns about the money not being recurring past the current fiscal biennium.
“Some concern is just capacity,” she added, noting that several of the schools that have already received funding are contracting with the same third-party transportation provider. “I know a school is coming forward with a new vendor. That may broaden access. That would be a great win for our schools.”
Bauer said the SPCSA is working with charter schools to determine “creative ways” for the money to be spent.
Legacy Traditional Schools, one of the larger charter school chains operating in Nevada, received $243,000 for its Cadence campus, which administrators noted in the application is currently under-enrolled. The Cadence campus is located near Lake Mead Parkway and Warm Springs Road in Henderson.
That under-enrollment is “not for lack of interest in Legacy Traditional Schools,” reads the application. Legacy’s Southwest campus, located near Rainbow Boulevard and Wigwam Avenue, had a waitlist of 1,800 students as of Sept. 28.
Legacy’s plans to run a bus from their Southwest campus to their Cadence campus, “with strategic stops in between should space allow.”
“We also plan to have an additional route from Boulder City to Cadence to accommodate underserved students in southeast Las Vegas and Boulder City should additional space remain at the Cadence campus after drawing from the waitlist.”
Legacy plans to contract out services to a transportation provider but also purchase two buses that it will lease to that service provider. Legacy also plans to use some of the funding on a “truancy support vehicle,” which would support all of its campuses.
Quest Academy, a K-8 charter school in northwest Las Vegas, was approved to receive $212,363. Their plan prioritizes homeless students. Those families, the school noted in its application, “experience the biggest financial and logistical hurdles to get to our school” and “have the greatest need for highly accommodating services with a keen focus on ensuring safety.”
Quest’s plan includes purchasing three minivans and having each minivan complete one to two routes in the morning and after school.
Also awarded on Friday:
- $244,050 to Founders Classical Academy of Las Vegas, a K-12 charter school, for a four-route bus system. “Each bus will pick up a full load of students from our 4 most concentrated geographic areas,” reads their application.
- $205,800 to Nevada Rise Academy, a K-1 charter school in Las Vegas, to offer daily bus transportation for 164 students.
- $144,000 to Elko Institute for Academic Achievement, a K-8 charter school, to purchase and operate one school bus and one van.
- $109,660 to Explore Academy Las Vegas, which serves middle and high school students, to offer two bus routes for 120 students.
- $83,000 to Honors Academy of Literature, a K-8 charter school in downtown Reno, to support a van that offers pick up and drop off “based on demonstrated need for transportation to and/or from school.”
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