Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 | 12:56 p.m.
The Clark County School District is severing its ties with an education management company that operates seven public schools in Las Vegas.
The School District has decided not to renew its contract with education services provider Catapult Learning, which bought out a portion of Edison Learning in December. The current contract with the district will run out at the end of this school year, after more than a decade of tepid results.
Edison came to town in 2001, promising to boost achievement among minority students from low-income families. The district gives per-pupil funding to Edison to educate children at these “Edison” schools using special curricula.
However, 13 years and five contract renewals later, the district has forked over more than $30 million with mixed results on student achievement. The past decade also saw a fiscal error that cost Clark County taxpayers $1.6 million, late philanthropy payments and lagging test scores that forced out the Edison program at West Prep Middle School.
Nationally, Edison has been criticized for privatizing the classroom and taking a cookie-cutter approach to education. In some school districts, Edison's failure to deliver on its promise of higher student achievement has invited lawsuits.
Despite complaints from outside critics, the program is seemingly popular with teachers and parents at the Edison schools, according to several surveys conducted by the School District and Edison.
Teachers said they liked Edison's collaborative teaching method, which set aside 40 minutes every day to prepare lesson plans and review student data with colleagues. They also found Edison's professional training to be helpful with instruction, and the four parent-teacher conferences a year effective in getting parents engaged with their children.
Principals at the seven Clark County Edison schools were consulted as part of this decision and are in agreement not to renew the contract, according to an email from the district on Thursday. The School District will continue to offer the Edison schools the same level of support they currently receive, including extended school days.
The Edison schools in Clark County are: Cahlan, Crestwood, Elizondo, Lincoln, Lynch, Park and Ronnow elementary schools.