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ACNW Authorizer Update

December 11, 2013

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
After a one-month hiatus from the Authorizer Update, here is your December information.
 
It’s hard to believe it has been one month since our great Leaders Retreat in early November. We had amazing participation and great feedback. We hope that many of you developed connections and engaged in learning that you have been able to leverage since the retreat.
 
Please review this Authorizer Update closely and 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 have not received this. Thank you.
 
Stay warm!

Sincerely,

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

Upcoming Dates

FY13 Financial Audit and Supplemental Documents Submission: December 31, 2013
Please see below for additional information. Please contact David with any questions.
 
Expansion Applications including for Early Learning Programs: January 2, 2014
Please contact David with any questions.
Academic Performance Evaluations

We have completed a draft Academic Performance Evaluation for each of your schools. Upon receiving feedback from you, we will make any necessary updates. It is our plan to have a final version out to each school by the end of December.
 
While the Academic Performance Framework evolved somewhat from last year’s framework, it contains most of the same evaluation areas (proficiency, growth, mission-related, etc.). The framework is also more expansive, clear and reflective of our desire to evaluate schools more holistically, using multiple data points. We are convinced that this is a better, more fair and comprehensive tool, and we have seen that school leaders welcome an academic evaluation that uses multiple data points. This year’s Academic Performance Evaluation becomes part of the body of information (including academic, financial, operational, and environmental education data gathered during the term of your current contract through site visits, interviews, observations, document and data review and analysis) that ACNW uses to make renewal decisions.
Financial Performance Evaluations

As ACNW begins to receive your FY13 financial audits, we will begin to complete the FY13 Financial Performance Evaluation for each school. The financial performance framework has evolved slightly from that used last year, but it continues to focus on the same metrics: financial management, near-team financial health, and long-term financial sustainability. Please download and review changes to the framework: ACNW Financial Performance Evaluation. You will see a draft of the completed framework for you school by January 31, 2014.
School Websites

Your website is one important means by which you communicate with your stakeholders. While compliance with statute is important, it is also critical that your website serve as an effective and transparent tool for communicating to your stakeholders about your school. Legislative changes in 2013 impacted the requirements for school websites. ACNW has updated expectations for school websites, and this document is available as a submission resource in Epicenter for the School Website Compliance task. We are currently in the process of reviewing websites for compliance both with statute and ACNW requirements. Please contact Erin with any questions about this.
Board Training Opportunities

As we have discussed with many of you, either at the Leaders Retreat or at your board meetings, your board can take a varied approach not only to meeting statutory board training requirements in governance, finance and employment, but also to getting quality training that will help each board member be more effective in the critical role of governing your charter school. Here is one such example that includes either in person or webinar training that is focused on non-profit governance: MAP for Nonprofits.
New Charter School Reporting Requirements

The 2013 legislative session brought additional reporting requirements for charter schools. Along with your year-end financial audit, each school must submit supplemental documents to MDE and its authorizer in the form of contracts the school has for administrative, financial or staffing services. ACNW has developed guidance in addition to that which was provided by MDE in an effort to provide more clarity on this issue: Updated FY13 Charter School Reporting Requirements. Please contact David with any questions.
Networking & Sharing

At the ACNW Leaders Retreat we were witness to scores of connections being made between and among school leaders, teachers and board members. We hope you will continue to grow and leverage those connections. The following link provides contact information for directors and board chairs of all schools authorized by ACNW: ACNW Directors and Board Chairs. In addition, the Leaders Retreat website offers contact information for all attendees, along with other documents and information from the breakout sessions. Connecting with your colleagues is a great way to learn, share and stay informed.
 
Please contact Erin if  you have updated contact information or need help using the document.
EE Mission Match Funds Available


During the 2013-2014 school year, ACNW will again be offering up to $500 to each authorized school to help complete your environmental education mission match. 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. Contact Melonie for an application. Your project must be pre-approved before you can receive funding.
  2. Complete the application and return to Melonie.
  3. Once approved, funds will be released to your school, 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.

Audubon Adventure Program Package 
The Audubon Adventures Program package is available to any ACNW-authorized charter school with students in Grades 3-5 during this school year only. Learn more about participating: Audubon Adventures. The deadline for application is January 30, 2013.

Grant & Scholarship Opportunities
(A small sampling of the many possibilities that may be out there.)
 
General Mills Foundation has opened the application window for the 2013-2014 Celebrating Communities of Color program. Fifty grants of $10,000 are available to nonprofits, schools, theaters and other Twin Cities organizations with programs that support people of color. Organizations that apply must be located in and serving diverse populations in the Twin Cities seven-county metro area and must be requesting project support in any of the Foundation’s four focus areas, which include Hunger & Nutrition Wellness, Education, Arts and Culture and Family Services. Applications are due online by February 3, 2014.
 
Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless has revised and posted new guidelines for 2014 grant making. Open Your Heart will continue to fund statewide, and has created four distinct categories to guide this funding: Hunger and Homelessness, Community Outreach, Education, and Special Projects. Deadlines vary for each category.
 
Ameriprise Financial is now accepting applications for their first grant round of 2014. Ameriprise supports programs in the following areas: Meeting Basic Needs, Supporting Community Vitality, and Volunteer-Driven Causes. Project proposals with measurable deliverables are preferred over general operating grants. The deadline for the first round of grants is January 15.

You can subscribe to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Minnesota Grants Alert for ongoing updates regarding Minnesota grant opportunities.
Copyright © 2013 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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