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Elko's charter school posts high test scores

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Elko's charter school posts high test scores

The latest Nevada Report Card scores for Elko's Charter School are considerably higher than last year and far above the state average.

ELKO – Elko charter school officials who plan to go out for bid again in January for a new facility are excited about latest Nevada Report Card test scores that they can show as they promote the construction project to potential donors.

The Nevada Department of Education’s recently released data on the Elko Institute for Academic Achievement for the 2021-2022 school year shows that the English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency score at the elementary level at the school is 58.4% and at the middle school level, 64.5%, while the math proficiency score is 60% for elementary students and 53.2% for middle school level.

Those scores are 14.4 to 19.4 percentage points higher than the state average for ELA, and 24 to 27.6 percentage points higher for math.

“Our middle school was sixth in the state,” said Principal Ashley Perkins, and that includes all public and charter schools. “We are definitely proud of that.”

The latest scores are up from the 2020-2021 school year. According to the Nevada Report Card for that school year, the charter school’s elementary score for ELA was 37.7% and for math, 40.9%, while the ELA score for middle school was 47.4% and for math, 44%.

Elko Institute of Academic Achievement Principal Ashley Perkins describes the school's activities

Figures also show that for K-5, the ELA proficiency scores for EIAA for the 2021-2022 school year were 58.4% and math, 60%, while K-8 ELA proficiency rates were 64.5% and math, 53.2%. Eighth grade science proficiency was at 72.2%, according to the breakdown.

Those scores were higher than the overall scores for charter schools throughout Nevada. The K-5 ELA proficiency score for all charters was 55.4%, and for math efficiency, 49.2%, while the K-8 ELA proficiency score was 57.3% and math, 36.5%. Eighth grade science efficiency was 44.9%.

The state didn’t do testing in the 2019-2020 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic but did testing in 2020-2021.

The Nevada Department of Education’s new figures are for the Smarter Balanced assessments in ELA and mathematics for third through eighth graders and Nevada Science Assessment for higher grades but the department’s updated scoreboard for the state, school districts and individual schools includes more details.

The chart for EIAA shows that per pupil expenditures totaled $9,105, which compares with $12,134 for the Elko County School District, and Perkins said efforts to raise money include pointing out that the charter school “receives the bottom amount” from the state.

The charter school’s funding doesn’t include money for facilities, food service and transportation, she said, so there are “pots of money state schools get, and we don’t get, and we want to share that with donors.”

Perkins also said that the Nevada Department of Education’s recent funding changes to the Pupil Centered Funding Plan affected the charter school in Elko and all schools statewide so there will be legislative efforts in the next session to fix the disparities.

“Elko took a big hit, rurals took a big hit and rural charters took a double hit,” she said.

While hoping legislative efforts will provide more operational money for the school, EIAA also is looking for more donations for school construction because of rising costs.

“Permits are in place and we were ready to start digging on July 11, but supply lines and inflation hit,” said Perkins, reporting that the new construction cost bids hit roughly $13.5 million, much higher than expected.

The school estimated in June before bids were opened that they would be roughly $10 million, according to an Elko Daily Free Press article at that time. The original estimate when EIAA first starting planning for a new facility was $6 million.

EIAA decided in June after the bid were opened that they were too high to award a contract.

Perkins said EIAA would seek new bids in January with hopes that costs will go down by then. This means construction won’t begin until 2023 for the new school that is planned to accommodate 396 students, while the current facility on Railroad Street is full at 198 students.

Perkins said the waiting list two months ago was approximately 350 children.

The new school for kindergarten through eighth grade will be built on EIAA property on 9.78 acres at College Parkway and Ruby Vista Drive, according to the City of Elko.

Plans call for a 30,000 square-foot facility featuring two classrooms per grade, and Babcock Design of Salt Lake City’s conceptual design shows a two-story building.

Donors already have provided roughly $2.7 million toward the new school. EIAA still has the $8.1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan approved earlier, but with the rising costs of construction, the charter school is looking for more money.

Donations so far include $500,000 from the Pendleton Foundation, $500,000 from Nevada Gold Mines, $500,000 from Elko County, $375,000 from the City of Elko, and smaller donations, such as $50,000 from Canyon Construction, according to Perkins.

Donations can be made through the school’s website eiaanv.net or donors can visit the school at 1031 Railroad St. Suite 107.

The charter school is free and open to all students through eighth grade. Waiting lists can roll over, but final enrollment is through a lottery system set forth by state statute in February through April of each year.

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