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December 19, 2014

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Rainbow Dreams school has its charter renewed

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Leila Navidi

Bryson Horsford, from left, Benjamin Horsford, and Gregory Oliver listen during the morning Harambee session at Rainbow Dreams Academy in Las Vegas Thursday, July 22, 2010.

Rainbow Dreams Academy Charter School

Benjamin Horsford, from left in red stripes, Gregory Oliver, in grey, and Bryson Horsford, front right, sing and dance during the morning Harambee session at Rainbow Dreams Academy in Las Vegas Thursday, July 22, 2010. Launch slideshow »

The Clark County School Board renewed its contract with the two star-ranked Rainbow Dreams Academy Charter School on Thursday.

The issue: Charter schools must renew their charters every six years to comply with district and state policy. Charter schools are public schools that receive state per-pupil funding, but are privately managed.

Rainbow Dreams Academy, located in the northern valley, is up for renewal this year.

The vote: Unanimous 7-0.

The impact: Rainbow Dreams can operate for another six years.

In 2007, the Clark County School District granted Rainbow Dreams its first charter, allowing it to open and operate. Since then, the charter school has expanded its operations and student enrollment.

Rainbow Dreams opened as a K-2 charter school at the nonprofit offices of Nevada Partners. Now it serves 250 students in kindergarten to fifth grade at its own school building, located at 950 W. Lake Mead Blvd.

Nearly all of the students at Rainbow Dreams are from minority backgrounds. About 87 percent of students are black.

Rainbow Dreams Academy spends about $2,000 less per student than the district average for instruction and instructional support, but spends $2,000 more per student than the district average in operations and leadership.

School Board members commended Rainbow Dreams for its growth and for lowering its transiency rate.

However, School Board member Carolyn Edwards raised some concerns about Rainbow Dream's two-star ranking and its writing test scores.

Just 21 percent of Rainbow Dreams students were deemed proficient in writing, according to the Criterion Referenced Test scores in 2011. Fifty percent of Clark County students were proficient in writing that year.

"Your writing is an area that still needs some work," Edwards said, adding she was impressed with the school during a recent visit. "I appreciate you have a plan to work on that."

Rainbow Dreams' test scores were similar to the district average in reading and math in 2011. Rainbow Dreams students scored about 10 percentage points lower than the district average in science.

School Board member Linda Young said the school culture at Rainbow Dreams — where students have a motto of self-respect — "trumps the deficit." The charter school reported no expulsions for discipline incidents in 2011.

"I'm comfortable knowing that you're going to take it further," Young said. "I've been following (Rainbow Dreams') development and I just couldn't be more proud."

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  1. I'm not understanding why we are renewing contracts for charters that are failing? We are using tax dollars to privatize failing schools? We need to relook at how we assess these money siphons.