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ACNW Authorizer Update

May 18, 2016

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
For many of you, the end of the school year is nigh, and a much warranted break is just around the corner. We hope you have both exciting and relaxing plans for your summer (and if you don’t, we hope you will be able to make some soon). This summer will bring some changes to the Charter School Division, especially in terms of staffing, which you read about below.

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.

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

Note: If you are viewing this email in Gmail, some portions of the newsletter may initially be rendered unviewable. To view this content, simply click on the ellipses icon [...] wherever it appears in the email.

ACNW Charter School Division Staffing Updates

We are pleased to announce the addition of a new member to our team - Rhianon Sargent. She will be joining ACNW this summer in the role of Charter School Authorizing Specialist. Rhianon graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Communication Studies. She comes to ACNW with several years of experience working in school administration, in both district and charter schools. She has a passion for education and strongly believes that all children should have access to an excellent education. In her free time, she loves to bike, hike, camp, and spend time at the lake. Rhianon is excited to join our team and we are excited for her to start!
It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since we introduced you to Aaliyah Hodge, our Strategic Initiatives Fellow. Aaliyah has spent the past eleven months in this role through our partnership with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. She has been immersed in the world of charter school authorizing while completing her master’s program. We have been so fortunate to have her on our team this past year, and as she wraps up her time with us in the next couple weeks, we look forward to seeing the great impact she will have on the world of education.
Aaliyah has these parting words for everyone:
I recently spent a year in the ACNW CSD office as part of the NACSA Innovation in Education Fellowship in partnership with the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The fellowship is designed to introduce emerging public policy leaders to charter school authorizing. I can honestly say this has been an amazing experience. I have learned so much about charter school finance, academic performance, board governance, and environmental education. Although I’ve learned a lot from David, Mike, and Erin, I’ve also learned so much from your schools’ directors, board members, teachers, and students! I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for giving me the opportunity to observe your classrooms, interview your staff, and sometimes even pester you with compliance issues. =) 

The work each of you take on is admirable, necessary, and important. While my career plans are still ambiguous, I know I want to keep studying education policy. I am planning on taking some time off and then applying to PhD programs in the fall. Once again thank you for sharing this opportunity with me.
If you would like to keep in touch with Aaliyah, you can email her at

Academic Framework and Authorizing Plan Meeting

Thanks to all of the school leaders who attended last week’s meeting. It was great to see you all and engage in discussion about evaluation frameworks, goals and measures, environmental education, and our next five-year authorizing plan. The following documents are posted to our website for your continued (or if you did not attend the meeting, initial) review:

Please send us any questions, feedback, wonderings, or insights you have on these materials. We very much welcome your input, even if you weren’t at the meeting. Feedback can be sent to
Again, thanks to all who participated!

FY17 Authorizer Fee

We have not yet sent invoices for FY17 authorizer fees. We are waiting until the end of the legislative session, which is next week, as there is a slight possibility that the general formula will increase. We recognize that you are working on your FY17 budgets right now, and as such we provide the following guidance for budgeting purposes.
In FY16, authorizer fees ranged from the minimum of $5,948 to the maximum of $23,792. The basic formula allowance is set to increase to $6,067 for FY17; however, there's a bill in the legislature that would increase that amount to $6,128. Your school’s FY17 authorizer fee is determined by the following formula:
FY17 pupil units ⨯ 0.015 ⨯ $6,067 (or $6,128) = FY17 Authorizer Fee*
*Note: If the number of pupil units is less than 66.7, the authorizer fee will be the minimum ($6,067 or $6,128). If the number of pupil units is greater than 266.7, the authorizer fee will be the maximum ($24,268 or $24,512).
We encourage you to budget based on the current FY17 range, taking into account any possible growth in your student enrollment.

Board Governance Topic: Open Meeting Law

Charter school boards are public bodies subject to MN Open Meeting Law. This is a topic we have brought up in previous Authorizer Updates and need to do so again. A number of resources related to Open Meeting Law can be found on our website in the Governance section, and we’d like to highlight a few items here.

1. Open Meeting Law requires that at least one printed copy of the board packet be available in the meeting room for public inspection.

2. Before closing a meeting, a public body shall state on the record (on the agenda and in the minutes) the specific statutory grounds permitting the meeting to be closed and describe the subject to be discussed.

3. We strongly encourage schools to post on the front door of the school on the day of the board meeting the time and location (room number) of the meeting. Members of the public who come to the school should be able to find the meeting with no trouble.

4. Consider the date and time of your board meeting, and how it advances the spirit of transparency and an open public meeting. Can parents and community attend at the scheduled time, and does the meeting time support parent and community board member participation?

5. A board member may participate and vote in a meeting in which s/he is not physically present only if:

  • All board members can see and hear one another (e.g., via Skype).
  • The public can see and hear all discussion and votes.
  • At least one board member is physically present at the regular meeting location.
  • Each location where a board member is present is open and accessible to the public.

If the above conditions cannot be met, the board member is not considered present at the meeting for the purposes of determining a quorum and participation in board proceedings (i.e., voting).

Consider taking time during a board meeting to review as a group the information provided here and on our website as well as other information related to MN Open Meeting Law. Such activity could be considered “ongoing training.”

Professional Development Opportunities

Summer is coming, and with it a plethora of professional development opportunities! Check them out below and on our website.
ACNW Environmental Education Workshop: August 1-2
This year’s theme will focus on environmental justice. The workshop will be held at the Audubon Center in Sandstone. ACNW expects that each school will send one teacher. We will cover the cost (meals and lodging) of up to two teachers. Additional attendees may participate as space allows at $112/person. Additional information will be forthcoming. Pre-registration is required. A registration form can be downloaded here.
Student Centered Learning Conference: August 3-4
Co-sponsored by ACNW, Novation Education Opportunities (NEO), and Instructional Designs, Inc.

This conference is aimed at teachers, teacher leaders, and leadership teams who want to develop a more student centered learning culture at their school. This will be an opportunity for practitioners to share with and learn from one another. For information on presenting and registration, contact Conference Director Rod Haenke at or 651-329-9172.
Board Training by MACS
The Minnesota Association of Charter Schools has a number of training options for board members. Check out their spring course catalogue and website for more information.
Odyssey Academy and Excell Academy Co-Host Training: August 18
Two ACNW authorized schools invite other schools to join them to participate in training and discussion around concepts presented by keynote speaker Jim Bearden around unleashing your staff’s capacity. The training will be held at Odyssey Academy in Brooklyn Park, and all schools that attend will be asked to split the costs equitably. Contact Mindy Crowley, Executive Director of Odyssey for more information.
Aligning Math Curriculum to Standards
Odyssey Academy in Brooklyn Park will be spending time this summer aligning their math curriculum to state standards. They welcome other schools to join in the process and learn from one another. Contact Mindy Crowley, Executive Director of Odyssey for more information.
Check out ACNW’s Charter School Division website and ACNW’s main website for other upcoming opportunities.
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Dare to Dream and Let Me Play Grants – Ann Bancroft Foundation
Application due October 1, 2016
The Ann Bancroft Foundation aims to create a world where every girl has a chance to live her dream and reach her full potential. Since 1997, the foundation has awarded Dare to Dream and Let Me Play grants to more than three thousand Minnesota girls — connecting them to mentors, funding, and encouragement to help them reach for their highest goals.
1) Dare to Dream: Grants of up to $500 are awarded to girls between the ages of ten and high school graduation in support of art, cultural, leadership, educational, and outdoor/wilderness experiences that enable them to begin exploring the outside world and recognize their own abilities, values, and strengths in the process.
2) Let Me Play: Grants of up to $500 are awarded to girls between the ages of ten and high school graduation in support of sport, athletic, and dance equipment or participation fees to give them the opportunity to be part of a team, build strength and confidence, and push themselves further -- on and off the field.
To be eligible, applicants must be a girl who resides in Minnesota and has an adult mentor (not an immediate family member or the activity provider) who can guide her through the application process. Visit the Ann Bancroft Foundation grant website for complete program guidelines, stories about past grantees, and application instructions.

Karma for Cara Foundation: Youth Microgrants
Applications accepted on an on-going basis.

The Karma for Cara Foundation is a nonprofit founded by 21-year-old Cara Becker and her family while she was undergoing treatment for leukemia at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Cara and her two brothers began volunteering at a young age as part of their family’s commitment to community service. She and her family saw a tremendous need to help support other patients and their families who were also challenged by cancer. Tragically, Cara passed away four months after her diagnosis, yet her wish to help others through K4C lives on with the support of an ever-growing circle of family and friends.

As part of an effort to promote and support youth voluntarism, K4C started a microgrant program in fall 2014 to encourage kids 18 and under to apply for a grant of between $250 and $1,000 to complete service projects in their communities. Examples of fundable projects include but are not limited to turning a vacant lot into a community garden, rebuilding a school playground, and helping senior citizens get their homes ready for winter. Grants will be distributed as gift cards to home goods stores, office supply stores, grocery food chains, and toy stores.

For complete program guidelines, profiles of previous projects, and application instructions, visit the Karma for Cara Foundation website.

Good Sports Accepting Applications for Sports Equipment Program
Applications reviewed on a rolling basis.

Good Sports helps lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles by providing athletic equipment, footwear, and apparel to disadvantaged young people nationwide. By working closely with teams, coaches, and community leaders across the United States, the organization is able to focus on the respective needs of each individual program and help offset the main factors causing the greatest challenges.

Good Sports is accepting applications from organizations and schools for equipment, apparel, and footwear for a wide range of sports. Organizations that are approved will have access to equipment, apparel, and footwear inventory for a two-year period. During that time, organizations can make up to six separate donation requests — as long as need is well documented, donations will be granted.

See the Good Sports website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and application instructions.

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. 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

Best teacher in Minnesota does things the Wright way
Abdul Wright, an 8th grade language arts teacher at Best Academy, was named Minnesota’s Teacher of the Year for 2016. He is the first charter school teacher to ever earn the award. Wright was selected from a field of 115 candidates that was whittled down to 11 finalists. Wright has taught at Best Academy since 2012. You can learn more about the award and Abdul Wright’s background in this article.
Congratulations Mr. Wright! Best of luck in the national competition!
Gibwanasii the Kestrel poses post-bath.
Prickly porcupine proudly prunes purple plants.
Copyright © 2016 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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