ACNW Authorizer Update

October 10, 2013

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,

Leaves changing, MMR, AYP, Vikings quarterback controversy, hunting, “MEA,” clocks falling back, and the ACNW Leaders Retreat.
 
It’s fall in Minnesota!
 
Please review this Authorizer Update and let us know if you have any questions or comments.
 
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.

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

FY14 Leaders Retreat at ACNW (Sandstone): November 1 & 2, 2013
Along with the new school year comes the ACNW Leaders Retreat! This will be a time to reflect, recharge, learn and connect after successfully launching your new school year. As per your contract, your school is required to attend and we expect to see 2-3 people from each school:  environmental education contact, school director and a board member. This year’s retreat will have a special environmental education component for EE contacts, governance and leadership sessions for school directors and board members, and sessions led by you and your peers. Please see our website for more information and registration materials.  Please be sure to register by October 25.  http://www.auduboncharterschools.org/events.htm.
We look forward to seeing you all there.

Charter Renewal Applications: November 15, 2013
For schools in the final year of their charter contract, you must submit your renewal application by November 15, 2013.  You should have the application materials, participated in a conference call, and had a presentation to your board regarding this topic.  Please contact David with any questions.
STATE AID PAYMENT UPDATE
You all should already be aware that the state aid payments are shifting in FY14.  A memo was sent out by MDE in July and again last week.  In addition, we have provided you information regarding this.  

A brief reminder:  Schools will be paid at 90% of current aid (10% holdback) beginning October 15.  The payment schedule will return to 24 payments. However, because the State has been paying based on the 16 period schedule started during the 40% holdback, and at a rate of 86.4% of current aid, schools have been overpaid by approximately 43% as of September 30. As a result, charter schools will receive no current year state aid for two to three payments.  October 15, October 30 and November 15 payments will be impacted.

Ensure that you are in close communication with your business manager or financial service provider to manage your cash flow during this time.
EPICENTER: DOCUMENT & COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The Epicenter rollout continues to go well. All schools are trained and engaged in uploading documents.  We continue to learn with you about how to make the system work well for us all.  Please contact Erin if you would like a refresher training or would like someone else from your staff or board to participate.
ANNUAL REPORTS
Thank you for submitting your FY13 Annual Reports.  We have begun reading them and will be providing each school with feedback in the coming weeks.
SCHOOL WEBSITES
Legislative changes in 2013 impacted the requirements for school websites. ACNW has updated expectations for school websites. This document is available as a submission resource in Epicenter for the School Website Compliance task. As indicated in Epicenter, we expect your school websites to meet statutory and ACNW requirements by September 30. Please contact Erin with any questions about this.
 
One additional note: On a number of occasions, ACNW has received fax requests for student records. These requests should have gone to your schools, but for some reason come to us. If you have our fax number on your website, please remove it and include only the CSD phone number and e-mail address. In addition, please clarify that records requests should go directly to the school Thank you.
NEPOTISM POLICY
Based on 2013 changes, MN Statute 124D.10 Subd 11(b) states that the charter school board of directors “shall adopt a policy on nepotism in employment.” We have included this as an Epicenter compliance task and your board approved policy must be uploaded no later than December 1, 2013. A sample policy and guidance from MACS are included as submission resources in Epicenter for the Nepotism Policy compliance task. You may find these documents useful as you develop a policy for your school.
CHARTER SCHOOL DIVISION - OFFICE UPDATES
Please note, we have moved suites.  Our address, phone and fax is the same, but we are now in Suite 507. 
 
Also, we will all be out of the office the week of October 21.  We will be at the NACSA (National Association of Charter School Authorizers) Conference.  We will be checking in via e-mail on occasion, but will have limited opportunity to respond until October 28.
EE MISSION MATCH FUNDS AVAILABLE

We will again be offering $500 maximum to each school, for the 2013-2014 school year, to help complete your EE 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.
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 with 5-10 business days. Proof of fund use is a requirement of the Audubon Center audit and funds will not be released without this.

INTERNATIONAL WOLF CENTER DISCOUNTS 
Now that pups Luna and Boltz are one year old, pack dynamics have changed and offer wonderful opportunities to learn about wolf behavior through observation. Additionally, the Wolf Center’s seasonal exhibit will showcase a local artist and represent the cultural and mythological relationship humans have to wolves throughout the school year.
 
Schools can receive a 15 percent off discount code for your next group visit or video conferencing registration if made by October 31.
 
The International Wolf Center was honored to receive the prestigious 2013 Pinnacle Award from the Center for Interactive Learning Collaboration (CILC) for excellence in videoconferencing programming.

GRANT and SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
(A small sampling of the many possibilities out there)
 
Foundation for Rural Education and Development offers Tech Grants of up to $5000 to rural public schools that are working in cooperation with their local telecommunications company to enhance learning by increasing the use of technology in the classroom.  Applications are due by November 15.

The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers has launched a call for entries for the 2014 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.   Creative teens in grades 7-12 are invited to submit work in one of twenty-eight categories, including film and animation, video game design, sculpture, photography, fashion design, poetry, journalism, humor, dramatic script, and science fiction. Student submissions are judged on the regional level by the alliance's affiliates, with the top winning works then presented to national panels of creative leaders to determine which will receive the highest honors. Fifteen graduating high school seniors will be awarded with Portfolio Gold Medals, which include a $10,000 scholarship.

The Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries seeks to provide books and reading materials to school libraries and students that most need them. The foundation provides grants of up to $5,000 to help school libraries expand, update, and diversify their book collections. In 2013, the foundation received over five hundred applications and awarded more than two hundred grants.  Only schools where a minimum of 80 percent of the student body qualify for free or reduced- lunchprograms are eligible to apply. The foundation gives preference to schools in which 90 percent or more of the students receive free or reduced lunches and are likely to have the fewest books and reading materials at home.

You can subscribe to the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Minnesota Grant Alert for ongoing updates regarding Minnesota grant opportunities.
Spike, the ACNW resident porcupine, enjoying some squash.
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