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ACNW Authorizer Update

April 3, 2013

Dear Directors and Board Chairs,

Happy spring! Please review this email for important and timely information from your authorizer. We're gearing up for a busy spring and look forward to seeing some of you and hearing the goings on in your schools.


David & the ACNW Charter School Team
ACNW Charter School Division
43 Main Street SE, Suite 238
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
(612) 331-4181
This committee is now up and running. Peter Scholtes, a teacher at Academic Arts High School, is taking the lead on this committee in collaboration with teachers and leaders from other ACNW authorized schools. He will be sending out information to all schools regarding the process for submitting clock hours to the committee. The next committee meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2013. For more information, email Peter.
ACNW has completed nearly all academic performance evaluations, based on FY12 performance data, for each of the schools we authorize. Your liaison will be in touch with you about presenting this to your board if that has not already happened. These evaluations provide information to ACNW and the school as to how the school in performing in relation to its contract goals and expectations.
We are currently in the process of completing financial performance evaluations for all schools. These are based on FY12 financial audits along with monthly board minutes, financial reports, and meetings with board members, business managers and school directors. Dr. Charles Speiker is taking the lead on these evaluations, in collaboration with each school’s liaison, to ensure accurate information. You will likely receive a call from either Dr. Speiker or your liaison with clarifying questions.

The financial evaluations follow the basic format of those done in prior years. In addition, we are testing out some new indicators that we believe are likely to provide useful information to the ACNW and the school. Like the academic performance evaluations, the financial performance evaluations are meant to provide information to ACNW and the school as to how the school is performing in relation to expectations. 
Follow this link to view the evaluation framework.

An operations performance evaluation will follow later this spring. We will send out information about this soon.
We have experienced much change in the Charter School Division in the last 18 months, and we are completing the process of ensuring all schools have complete files. Each school should have the following foundational documents on file (digitally) with our office:
  • IRS 501(c)3 determination letter 
  • Articles of Incorporation (stamped by the Minnesota Secretary of State)
  • Certificate of Incorporation (the blue certificate issued by the Secretary of State)
  • MDE Letter of Approval
  • IRS Acknowledgement/Assignment of EIN
  • Certificate of Insurance (listing ACNW as additional insured under the policy)
  • Most current lease
If you have not done so this school year, please email these documents to Erin. If you have questions about what we are looking for, Erin can point you in the right direction. We hope to have all foundational document files complete by June 30, 2013.

Thanks to AFSA, Discovery Public, Great Expectations, and Oshki Ogimaag, the four schools for which we have complete records of their foundational documents.

This year, 85% (28 of 33) of eligible schools authorized by ACNW won the MDE School Finance Award in FY13. This award is one indicator of strong financial practices at the school. Well done!

Congratulations to: Academic Arts, AFSA High School, Aurora Charter School, Best Academy, Bright Water Elementary, Cannon River STEM, Crosslake Community School, Discovery Public, Discovery Woods Montessori, ERATS, Emily Grey, Glacial Hills, Great Expectations, Harvest Prep, La Crescent Montessori, Laura Jeffrey Academy, Metro Schools, Natural Science Academy, Noble Academy, Odyssey Academy, Oshki Ogimaag, Pillager Area Charter School, Prairie Seeds Academy, River’s Edge, Riverway Learning Community, Swan River Montessori, Voyageurs, World Learner School.

MDE has recently announced guidelines for schools and authorizers to seek official MDE recognition of their instructional programs for three- to five-year-olds. The official recogniztion is required by June 30, 2014, and it must be part of the charter school contract with the authorizer. ACNW will have to submit a Charter School Authorizer Affidavit to MDE on behalf of your school. Please find additional information at the MDE Charter School Website.
If your school does run an Early Learning Program currently, please contact Erin so we can update our database and plan for any needed supplemental affidavit submissions to MDE. If we do not hear from you by June 1, 2013, this may impact our ability to submit an affidavit on your behalf.

Environmental Education News & Updates
News from the National Green Schools Conference
The Green Schools Alliance will be a major part of future EE mission match efforts. Check out their very searchable, user friendly website for excellent resources to assist you. Membership is free. Among the many tools they provide and activities they sponsor in multiple states and countries are: peer to peer counseling on environmental issues, Green Cup challenge competitions, and a Student Climate and Conservation Congress. Will your school be the first one funded to send representatives to this conference as it is fosters the environmental leaders of tomorrow? 
Funding Opportunities
St. Paul area schools have access to Eco Lab scholarship funds for a visit to the Audubon Center. Contact Melonie for an application. 

All charter schools, as announced at the Leaders' Retreat, can apply for up to $500 in funds to use to meet their EE match on any approved field trip, activity, or supplies. Contact Melonie for details beforehand.

Do you have an idea for a school or community native plant garden, forrest improvement project, a streamside resporation plan, a recycling program, or energy conservation project for your students? Apply for a Project Learning Tree GreenWorks grant for funds to implement your ideas.

The Environmental Literacy Assessment Tool will be heading to your schools on April 12, to be administered through your school’s EE contact during the following week (National Environmental Education Week).

Each school has been asked to designate an EE contact for the school. This can be a staff member, teacher, volunteer, or parent who will coordinate and lead the EE match efforts. If your school has not already done so, please contact Melonie with this information.

Your one stop shop for all things EE related is the Green Schools Coalition website.

Your school will be evaluated on meeting the EE mission match during your annual site visits and self-reporting in the annual report. This evaluation will be based on the EE mission match chart. If you have questions, or would like to receive a copy of the chart, please contact Melonie.

At the Leaders Retreat in November, each school received a Wildlife Counts program. In order to use the program, you must enter the code found on the back of the CD envelope.

To book an EE program at the Audubon Center, please contact Clarissa Ellis, the Center K-12 Education Coordinator. For questions related to EE or EE mission match, please contact Melonie. The Charter School Division Field Office (David, Shane, & Erin) oversee all other elements.

EE Teacher Training Opportunities
The Jeffers Foundation will come to your school, without charge, and train your staff. Visit their website for more information.

Volunteer to assist at the Audubon Center of the North Woods summer youth camp, Forkhorn II, July 29 though August 1, 2013, and earn contact hours as you train! FREE. Training, meals, and lodging provided.

Participate in the Steger Foundation Summer Institute, June 16-18, 2013, at the Audubon Center, $70 all inclusive. Visit their website to register.
Copyright © 2013 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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