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ACNW Authorizer Update

September 3, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
The first day of school is less than a week away for many, and for others your school year is in full swing. This is always a time of great aspirations and possibilities. We hope these first days and weeks run smoothly with much learning by students and adults alike.
 
We would like to welcome two new schools to the ACNW portfolio. Recently MDE approved the transfer of Minneapolis College Prep, a high school entering its fourth year, and Higher Ground Academy (St. Paul), a school in its 18th year and serving students in grades K-12. We are excited to grow to 34 schools in the portfolio and further advance our vision – to authorize a portfolio of high performing charter schools that instill a commitment and connection to the environment in their school communities while working towards a healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.
 
We know things are quite busy this time of year, and we ask that you 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 always hoping that this newsletter reaches all board members as well as staff in leadership roles at all charters schools authorized by ACNW. Please forward to your colleagues and ask them to subscribe if they are not receiving these updates.
 
Sincerely,

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

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Upcoming Dates
  • November 13 & 14 – ACNW Leaders Retreat: See below for additional information.
MDE - IDEAS Overpayment

We hope that your financial management staff is aware of this already, but it warrants repeating as it could have a great impact on your school's cash flow. In the August 30 IDEAS Combined Payment Report, the current Special Education entitlement for charter schools was inadvertently written over by the General Education entitlement. As a result, the total entitlements may be larger than they should be, resulting in a larger August 30 payment. The General Education entitlement will be revised on September 15 and the payments adjusted to the proper amount.
 
Please be aware that your charter school may have been paid ahead of schedule and that future payments will be reduced until the total payments made are at the correct cumulative disbursement percentage.
 
If you have questions, please contact Ann VanDiest at MDE at 651-582-8745  or ann.vandiest@state.mn.us.  
ACNW FY16 Leaders Retreat

Please save the date for the FY16 Leaders Retreat. This year we will focus exclusively on leadership and governance. (In lieu of an EE track at this year’s retreat, ACNW hosted an EE-focused teacher workshop in early August.)
 
The dates of the Leaders Retreat are Friday, November 13 to Saturday, November 14 at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone.
 
Thank you for your input on the topics you would like to see covered this year. Your feedback will be used to help us craft sessions that will best meet your interests and needs. We hope to have registration and session information to you no later than October 1.
Epicenter Survey

Thanks to everyone that completed our Epicenter survey. Results from the survey show that respondents have a mostly positive relationship with Epicenter – 85.7% of respondents said that Epicenter is “useful” or “extremely useful” to their school.
 
Mike will be contacting you soon about customizing your school’s list of compliance requirements and other Epicenter features based on your survey feedback. 
Annual Report and World's Best Workforce Report

The charter school Annual Report and World’s Best Workforce report for FY15 is due to ACNW by October 1 via Epicenter.  Please remember that statute not only requires that this document be submitted to your authorizer, but also that it be shared with your school community, parents, and staff.
 
Guidance documents including a template to help you complete a quality report that meets statutory requirements are available online, including a recent webinar hosted by ACNW staff. To view the webinar, visit this link. The video that shows up is a 15 minute preview (the full video is about 30 minutes). To download the full video, click on the blue "Download" button in the upper right-hand corner of the page, then select "Direct download." If you have a Dropbox account, you can also download the file to your personal Dropbox.
 
Remember that the board of directors of your school must review and approve the report prior to its submission to Epicenter, and that the report must be posted to the school’s website and shared with the school community. We suggest doing this by directing staff, parents, and other stakeholders to the school’s website.
 
Contact Holly if you have any questions.
Board Rosters and Reporting to ACNW

For schools that have charter contracts that were executed after July 1, 2014, the charter contract clearly outlines the school’s responsibility regarding changes in board composition:
 
Section 6.20. Board Data.  The School agrees to notify ACNW, via an updated board roster, of any resignations or additions to its School Board within ten (10) business days of such change.
 
To notify ACNW of change in board composition, please do so via Epicenter.
  1. Log into Epicenter. From the home page, select Document Center in the upper right corner.
  2. Select the Upload Submission button from the lower left corner of the screen.
  3. For Entity Type, select Board.
  4. For Submission Type, select Board Roster, which can be found in the Board Member Information section.
  5. Use the Add Files button to attach the revised board roster. A template board roster is attached to the task as a submission resource.
  6. Once the file is attached, select Submit.
Failure to update ACNW of board roster changes is a violation of the charter contract.
 
Schools that have charter contracts executed prior to July 1, 2014 are also expected to provide ACNW with an updated board roster via Epicenter as outlined above.
Board of Teaching Special Permission Requests

Schools that request waivers from the Board of Teaching (Non-Licensed Community Experts, Innovative Program Waivers, and Discretionary Variance Requests) will notice that the form no longer requires the authorizer’s signature, but does require that the school notify the authorizer of the request.

To notify ACNW of any requests of this nature, please do so via Epicenter.
  1. Log into Epicenter. From the home page, select Document Center in the upper right corner.
  2. Select the Upload Submission button from the lower left corner of the screen.
  3. For Entity Type, select School.
  4. For Submission Type, select Special Permissions for Classroom Teaching, which can be found in the MDE Filings section. 
  5. Use the Add Files button to attach the completed Special Permission Request Notification, which is attached to the task as a submission resource.
  6. Once the files are attached, select Submit.
For more information on these special permission requests, see: http://mn.gov/board-of-teaching/beaneducator/permissions/.
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

AmeriCorps Grants
Concept paper due September 21.
 
ServeMinnesota, the administrator for federal AmeriCorps funds, is currently accepting applications for AmeriCorps Operational Grants for the 2016-2017 year. AmeriCorps grants are used to support full-time AmeriCorps volunteers with living stipends and education awards to AmeriCorps member.  Grants are available to organizations that engage in evidence-based interventions or proposing evidenced-based interventions that utilize AmeriCorps members to strengthen communities.
 
A concept paper is due by 5:00 pm on September 21, 2015 A full application is due on November 13, 2015 for applicants invited to submit based on a review of the concept paper.  
 
Project Learning Tree Seeks Applications for Environmental Education Projects
Applications due September 30
 
Project Learning Tree is accepting applications from schools and nonprofit organizations for environmental service-learning projects through its GreenWorks! grants program. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to support environmental service-learning projects that demonstrate service learning, exemplify the collective voice of the student body, and involve at least one community partner. To be eligible, projects must secure at least 50 percent in matching funds (in-kind is acceptable). (Your school’s EE Mission Match Funds can be used for this purpose.)
 
Field Trip Grants – Target Corporation
Applications accepted between August 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015
 
It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target launched the Field Trip Grants program in 2007. As part of the program, Target stores award Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued up to $700. Target accepts grant applications between noon CST August 1 and noon CST September 30. For more information, visit the Target field trip grant website.
 
E2 Energy to Education Grants – Constellation
Applications due October 1.
 
Constellation believes that providing quality educational opportunities and career development are among the most important tools to help communities succeed in the long term. To that end, the company is accepting grant applications for local community projects that inspire students to think differently about energy. Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded to projects at the grade 6-12 level. Projects should be team-oriented, learning-focused, hands-on demonstrations that reach a minimum of one hundred students.

See the Constellation website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, descriptions of previous grantees, and application instructions.
 
Ann Bancroft Foundation Invites Applications From Minnesota Girls
Applications due October 1 or May 1
 
Grants of up to $500 are awarded to girls between the ages of 5 and 18 to help them realize a dream or fulfill their potential. Grants are given through two programs: Dare to Dream Grants (ages 10 through high school), which fund art, cultural, leadership, educational & outdoor/wilderness experiences; and Let Me Play Grants (ages 5 through high school graduation) which fund sport, athletic & dance equipment or participation fees. These grants are awarded directly to girls and not to schools or programs. For more information, visit the Ann Bancroft Foundation grant website.
 
Toolbox for Education Grants – Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation
Applications due October 1.
 
The Lowe's Charitable and Education Foundation has announced the opening of its Fall 2015 Toolbox for Education program, which supports projects that encourage parent involvement in local schools and build stronger community spirit. One-year grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded in support of projects that have a permanent impact on a school community such as facility enhancement (indoor or outdoor) or landscaping/clean-up projects. Toolbox grants also can be used as part of a large-scale project like a playground as long as the funds are used to complete a phase of the project that can be completed within twelve months of the award.

Complete application instructions and program guidelines, as well as lists of past grant recipients, are available on the Toolbox for Education website.
 
EE Mission Match Funds

ACNW is 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.
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.
Networking and 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.
School Highlights

A number of ACNW authorized schools earned recognition from MDE and the Star Tribune in recent days.

MMR results were released on September 1. One ACNW authorized school was identified as a Reward School. A big congratulations to Great Expectations School. The school has been identified as a Reward School in each year since the Multiple Measure system was implemented, including the initial designation in 2012.
 
The following were identified as Celebration Eligible schools:
AFSA High School
Higher Ground Academy
Laura Jeffrey Academy
Noble Academy

Congratulations on this achievement!
 
The following were identified as “Beating the Odds Schools” by the Star Tribune:
Harvest Preparatory School
Higher Ground Academy
Excell Academy

Well done!
Learning Opportunities at the Audubon Center

Visit the Audubon Center of the North Woods website to find out more about the learning opportunities, family programs, and other events offered by the Center this fall.
Say hello to [NAME PENDING] the Raven, our newest avian ambassador. This handsome corvid came to us from Wildwoods Rehab in Duluth.
Mushroom mania at the Center! Watching where you step can yield some incredible fungus finds. You may even come across one that grants you an extra life!
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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