Carson City’s Silver State Charter School receives one last chance

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Facing a state order revoking its charter this spring, Carson City’s Silver State Charter School on Wednesday won a chance to fix its ongoing problems and keep its license.

Nevada’s Charter School Authority board decided to give the school’s new management a chance to negotiate a one year probationary period during which it would cure not only the financial issues that prompted the revocation hearing but such things as graduation rates that have been raised as issues for the school.

The alternative was to formally adopt the official revocation of the school charter, forcing its closure at the end of this school year and relocation of all Silver State students.

The board instructed Deputy Attorney General Greg Ott to work with Silver State’s lawyers and hammer out a “global” deal the board could consider.

They did so after Silver State lawyers Carrie Parker and Ryan Russell made it clear to the board their alternative if the revocation was finalized was to file a petition for judicial review in Carson District Court.

They voted instead to hold off that decision until after the parties try to work out a course of action to bring the school up to standards. Russell said the board has wide discretion to do that and the agreement would include conditions Silver State must meet to stay open and win renewal of its charter for another six years.

“If we’re working out a deal where Silver State would be extended or renewed with conditions, you can put any conditions on that,” he said. “There needs to be a global resolution that wraps up everything.”

Kit Kotler, the new director of Silver State, told the board she has already submitted a list of stipulations a week ago designed to give the state authority confidence Silver State is on track to fix its problems including achievement, graduation rates and other issues.

Russell added it’s to Silver state’s advantage to cooperate and work on a deal: “If we drag our feet, we’re heading toward closure at the end of the year,” he said. “The only party that risks anything by dragging its feet is Silver State.”

Kathleen Conoboy made the motion to direct the parties to try work something out and bring a stipulated agreement back to the March 22 meeting, or return with an amended order revoking the school’s charter.

The board voted to revoke the school’s charter January 4 after a series of meetings in which auditors said Silver State violated state law by investing more than $3 million of public money in derivative contracts not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. It also reported the school was guilty of a pattern of fiscal mismanagement.

Silver State was given time to fix those issues but, in January, Authority Director Patrick Gavin said the school failed to remedy the deficiencies in a timely way.

But those aren’t the only issues, Silver State has also come under fire from the Nevada Department of Education for a perennially low graduation rate.


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