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ACNW Authorizer Update

August 14, 2014

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
It’s hard to believe – the start of school is only weeks away. (And for a few of you, your school year has already started!) Where has the summer gone?! We know things may be getting a little more frantic as the start of school approaches, but please take time to review this Authorizer Update closely, and as always, let us know if you have any questions or comments about its contents.
 
We are attempting to include all board members of all charters schools authorized by ACNW. Please reach out to your colleagues to get them signed up if they are not receiving our updates. Thank you.

Sincerely,

David & the ACNW Charter School Team
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 507
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
(612) 331-4181

Upcoming Dates
  • September 10, 3:15 p.m. Epicenter orientation webinar
    • See below for additional information.
  • November 13-14, Leaders Retreat
    • See below for additional information.
Leaders Retreat

Based on your feedback from the recent poll regarding the ACNW Leaders Retreat, we have finalized dates for this year's event: Thursday, November 13 starting at 3:00 PM, through Friday, November 14 ending at 4:00 PM. Additional information will be forthcoming. We are looking forward to a great retreat to build on last year's success. This year we will emphasize training in the areas of governance and environmental education in addition to offering learning opportunities in other areas. As a reminder, you are required to send representation from your school to this event. In the past, we have asked that each school send a member of its leadership team, the board chair or another officer, and its EE contact.
Annual Report

MN Statute 124D.10 requires that each charter school produce an annual report and share it with its authorizer and school community. These are due October 1 of each year. ACNW has provided guidance again as we did last year. To further support the development of quality annual reports that serve the school, public, and authorizer, we held a webinar on August 13 which we recorded. If you would like to watch the recorded version of this webinar, please contact Mike.
Epicenter Webinar

We have scheduled an orientation webinar for Wednesday, September 10, at 3:15. This training session is for new users, those who didn’t attend a training session last summer, or are just looking for a refresher on how to use the system. Please contact Erin by Monday, September 8 if you or someone from your school staff or board would like to participate.
UPDATE - Safe and Supportive Schools Act: Bullying Policy

In our last authorizer update, we provided guidance to schools regarding the required bullying policy. Given recent developments, we are updating our guidance.
 
Legislation passed in 2014 required MDE to create a model policy to advise local school districts and charter schools in implementing the different components of the Safe and Supportive Schools Act. MDE has now completed this draft model policy which is subject to approval by the School Safety and Technical Assistance Council at their first meeting in September. Districts and charter schools may choose to adopt this policy or develop their own policy as long as it meets the criteria specified in the legislation. A school district or school that does not adopt and implement a locally-developed policy must adopt the state model policy. Local districts may supplement the state’s model policy. In addition, districts and schools may ask for help with implementing the state model policy.
  • ACNW is now requiring that all schools provide to ACNW a policy that meets statutory requirements by December 1, 2014. This must be uploaded to Epicenter. 
  • We encourage you to communicate with students and families regarding this new policy as soon your school board has approved it.
Please contact David if you have questions.
FY15 School Website Requirements

As we do each year, we have updated our website requirements for schools. New requirements enacted during the 2014 legislative session include:
  • World’s Best Workforce Annual Report
  • School’s student bullying policy in the languages appearing on the school’s website, in accordance with the Safe and Supportive Schools Act
  • Local literacy plan for schools that service grades K-3, updated to include English learners
  • If your school leases space through an Affiliated Building Corporation (ABC), the following information must be posted: the ABC’s corporate name, mailing address, bylaws, minutes of board meetings, and current board members’ names
  • If your school considers admission of students under age five to kindergarten, or under age six to first grade, provide your admission policy
    • Board-adopted policy for early admission to kindergarten must be based on a comprehensive evaluation to determine the child’s ability to meet kindergarten expectations and progress to first grade in the subsequent year
  • Policy for the purchase of group health insurance coverage (if your school provides group health insurance and has at least 25 employees); this policy must include a sealed proposal process
Download a full description of website requirements from the CSD website.
ACNW Charter Schools Website

In the coming months, we will be switching over to a new website with a sleeker design, simpler navigation, and more robust content. In the meantime though, we won't be neglecting to update our current website, so be sure to check it out for upcoming events and trainings, as well as other resources for the upcoming school year - such as the FY14 Charter School Annual Report/World's Best Workforce Annual Report Guidelines, the FY15 School Website Requirements list, and if your school is going through renewal, various renewal process templates and guidelines.
EE Mission Match Funds

During the 2014-2015 school year, ACNW will again be offering up to $500.00 to each authorized school to help achieve your environmental education goals. Funds may be used to buy equipment, provide a match for an EE-related grant, hire a presenter, or pay for a field trip to the Audubon Center or any other EE-based location of your choice.
 
To apply for these funds:
  1. Download the application from the CSD website. Your project must be pre-approved before you can receive funding.
  2. Complete the application and return to Erin.
  3. Once approved, funds will be released to your school only AFTER an invoice or other proof of payment is received. Our Business Manager is diligent in sending out funds within 5-10 business days. Proof of fund use is a requirement of the Audubon Center audit and funds will not be released without this.
Grant Opportunities

(A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.)
 
The Ag Literacy Grant Program’s overarching goal is to provide cash awards to K-12 practicing educators to encourage them to bring agriculture and food systems education “to life” by effectively integrating related content into their classroom or school. Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom (MAITC) is a unique public/private partnership between the MAITC Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. For 2015 they have budgeted $10,000 for grants. First time applicants will have priority for funding. Grants can be used for field trips but MAITC does not pay for student entry fees to field trip sites. Due January 15, 2015.
  
You can subscribe to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Minnesota Grant Alert for ongoing updates regarding Minnesota grant opportunities. In addition, you can review the Minnesota Council on Foundations website for upcoming opportunities.
Networking & Sharing

Please continue to reach out to your colleagues for resources, learning, and sharing. We hope you will continue to grow and leverage the connections you made at the Leaders Retreat and elsewhere. The following link provides contact information for directors and board chairs of all schools authorized by ACNW: ACNW Directors and Board Chairs
 
Please contact Mike if you have updated contact information or need help using the document.
Learning Opportunities at the Center and Elsewhere

Go to this link on the Audubon Charter Schools website for a number of learning opportunities available this fall. Additional events can be found at the main Audubon Center of the North Woods website.
School Highlights

This year a number of schools are expanding to better meet the needs and aspirations of their students. AFSA High School is adding two more grades (5th and 6th) and adding a new site in St. Paul to house its Middle School (Grades 5-7). Likewise, Best Academy is adding a new site in Minneapolis for its middle school students (Grades 5-8). Crosslake Community School is adding a new online program for high school students, and lastly, East Range Academy of Technology and Science (ERATS) is expanding to include 9th grade. We wish you all the best as you kick off these new sites, programs, and grade levels.

Please let us know about any great things happening at your school that we can share with others.
Meet Our Wild Staff!!
Even though Spike the Porcupine really enjoys eating browse, he would like some seasonal food as well. If you happen to be in the Sandstone area and have some spare zucchini or kale, he would very much appreciate the donation!
Gibwanasii the Kestrel investigates some quail feathers frozen in ice, one of the many ice-themed enrichment activities offered to our animals this summer at the Center. Fun fact: "Gibwanasii" is the Ojibwe word for the American Kestrel.
Copyright © 2014 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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