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ACNW Authorizer Update

October 14, 2014

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
Autumn is a time of transition ~ the leaves, they are a-changin’ ~ and we hope your school has successfully transitioned from the frenzied first days of the school year. Speaking of change, we’re interested in hearing what changes you’ve made at your school. Send a reply to this newsletter and let us know what’s new. We look forward to hearing from you!
 
As always, please take time to 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 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
  • October 15 – Charter School Statement of Assurances Due to MDE and ACNW (Epicenter)
  • October 24 – Registration deadline for the Leaders Retreat
  • November 13 & 14 – Leaders Retreat: See below for additional information.
  • November 14 – Reauthorization Application Due (for schools in their reauthorization year)
Leaders Retreat
Thursday, November 13, starting at 12:00 PM, through
Friday, November 14, ending at 4:30 PM

 
The Leaders Retreat is just one month away. 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, ideally a member of your leadership team, the board chair or another officer, and your EE contact.
 
As we did last year, the first day will focus on EE. While all are welcome to attend Day 1, activities and discussion are geared towards improving your school’s capacity to implement environmental education programming. Day 2 will be focused on leadership and governance.
 
Some of the highlights and sessions include:
  • Keynote and session by former state senator Ember Reichgott Junge, author of the original charter school law passed in MN in 1991;
  • Social media marketing;
  • Conducting more effective board meetings;
  • Developing quality board agendas, minutes, and calendars;
  • Grant writing;
  • Executive director’s role in relationship to the board;
  • Understanding MMR / FR;
  • Live music Thursday evening by Karina Kern
Relevant documents are available at these links: Leaders Retreat Flyer, Draft Agenda, and Registration Form. A reminder that registrations are due October 24.
Annual Report and World's Best Workforce Annual Report

Just a reminder that your Annual Report and WBWF report is due in the coming days. To ensure your board approves the Annual Report prior to its submission to ACNW, we have moved the deadline to October 17, 2014 or the day after your October board meeting (whichever is later). 
 
Furthermore, as per statute, your school is required to submit a summary of your WBWF report to the Commissioner. While there is no statutory deadline for submission of the summary report, we are setting the date of December 1, 2014 as an Epicenter compliance task. You will need to submit this summary report to ACNW at the same time you submit it to MDE. MDE has provided guidance on creating this summary report.
MDE-ORG

MDE-ORG is the official directory of school contact information used by the Minnesota Department of Education.  We have seen examples of schools that currently do not have accurate information on their MDE-ORG page. This means you are likely not getting important information from MDE. Please take a moment to verify your school’s information at the MDE-ORG page. To update your school’s MDE-ORG record, go to the District and School Site Verification page of MDE’s website.
Audubon Charter Schools Website
 
We are very pleased to announce that the www.auduboncharterschools.org website has been revamped to better communicate our work, highlight your work, and provide tools and resources that you will find useful. Check it out! And check back often.
NACSA Conference

ACNW Charter School Division staff will be attending the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) Leadership Conference from October 20 – 23 in Miami. This is the time when authorizers from around the country gather and learn with the goal of improving their authorizing practice. Please note that if you contact us during this week, you will likely have a longer than usual response time from us.
Authorizer Income and Expense Report

Minnesota charter school law requires that “By September 30 of each year, an authorizer shall submit to the commissioner a statement of income and expenditures related to chartering activities during the previous school year ending June 30. A copy of the statement shall be given to all schools chartered by the authorizer.” ACNW’s report is available here.
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.
 
Teach for the Planet Challenge – DonorsChoose.org and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
 
DonorsChoose.org, in partnership with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, is accepting submissions from K-12 teachers across the country for the Teach for the Planet Challenge. The program aims to support high-impact hands-on classroom projects that promote sustainability education. To participate in the challenge, teachers can submit their best sustainability projects on DonorsChoose.org. The Allen Family Foundation will match all donations to qualifying projects. Projects must demonstrate innovation in the way an environmental or sustainability lesson is taught.
 
DonorsChoose.org will choose sixty semifinalists, and an expert panel will narrow that down to three finalists per grade category (K-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and high school). Finalists and their projects will be posted on Facebook in December 2014 and the public will be invited to vote for their favorite in each grade category. The teacher in each grade category whose project receives the most votes will receive a $10,000 DonorsChoose.org gift card to apply toward future project requests. Finalists in each category will receive $3,000 DonorsChoose.org gift cards, while semifinalists will receive $750 gift cards.
 
Visit the DonorsChoose.org website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and submission instructions.
 
School Garden Grant Program – Whole Kids Foundation
Due October 31, 2014.
 
The Whole Kids Foundation, in partnership with FoodCorps, is accepting applications for its School Garden Grant Program. The annual program supports school garden projects designed to help students learn about complex topics such as nutrition and health, sustainability and conservation, food systems, and community awareness. Garden projects may be at any stage of development (planning, construction, or operation). Priority will be given to both limited-resource communities and to projects that demonstrate strong buy-in from stakeholders as well as ability to financially sustain the garden.
 
To be eligible, an applicant must be a nonprofit K-12 school (public, private, or charter) and/or a 501(c)(3) organization that is developing or currently maintaining a garden project on school grounds to interest children in fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, the applicant must have the support of a specific partner organization from the community (such as a nonprofit, a farm, a local business, a Whole Foods store, or a garden club) that brings added support and sustainability to the initiative. The applicant, if a nonprofit, may be the community partner for this grant. Grants will provide $2,000 for projects lasting a year.
 
Visit the Whole Kids Foundation website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and the online application form.
 
Engaging Middle School Students in Learning Mathematics Grants – National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Due Friday, November 7, 2014.
 
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is accepting applications for Engaging Students in Learning Mathematics grants for teachers in grades 6-8. The purpose of this grant is to incorporate middle-school classroom materials or lessons that actively engage students in tasks and experiences, with the goal of deepening their content knowledge. For 2015-16, grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded to persons currently teaching mathematics in grades 6-8. Materials may be in the form of books, visual displays, slide shows, videotapes, or other appropriate media.
 
To be eligible, applicants must be current (on or before October 15, 2014) full individual or e-members of NCTM or teach at a school with a current (on or before October 15, 2014) NCTM Pre-K-8 school membership and currently teach mathematics in grades 6-8 at least 50 percent of the school day. Activities are to be completed between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. Past recipients of this grant are ineligible to re-apply for the grant.
 
Visit the NCTM website for complete program guidelines and application instructions.
 
School Library Grants – Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries
Due Monday, December 15, 2014.
 
The mission of the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is to help school libraries encourage and foster a love of reading, support student learning, and make books and reading materials available to students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to them. To that end, grants of up to $7,000 will be awarded to help libraries expand, update, and diversify their book collections at schools where 85 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches.
 
Schools serving pre-K through 12th grade students in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, all American territories, and Department of Defense schools in other countries are eligible to apply. This includes all public, private, parochial, charter, city, state, county, and reservation schools — including special schools, social services schools, and juvenile detention center schools in any of those jurisdictions that serve any combination of pre-kindergarten through high school students.  
 
For complete program guidelines, an FAQ, and application instructions, visit the Laura Bush Foundation website.
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.
School Highlights

Congratulations to the following ACNW authorized schools for their recent MMR Designations:
 
Reward Schools
Aurora Middle School
Crosslake Community School
 
Celebration Eligible Schools
Glacial Hills Elementary School
New Discoveries Montessori Academy
North Lakes Academy Upper School
Noble Academy
 
Please let us know about any great things happening at your school that we can share with others.
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.
The Leaders Retreat is only a month away. Get ready to hit the trail!
Gibwanasii the Kestrel - Audubon's resident ace in the hole.
Copyright © 2014 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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