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ACNW Authorizer Update

July 9, 2015

Dear School Leaders and Board Members,
 
We hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend and have been taking time to enjoy the outdoors this summer. We also want to wish you a very Happy New Fiscal Year! (Break out the party hats... and a beverage or two!)
 
The new year (even a new fiscal year) is a time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous year and to envision what you will accomplish in the next twelve months. We are certainly doing so here at Audubon. Specifically, we have revised our strategic plan for the coming year, ensuring that the work we do aligns to our mission and vision, and are developing work plans to more effectively implement our strategic plan and achieve our goals. We want to take this opportunity to remind you of our authorizing mission and vision:
 
Authorizing Mission:
To provide superior oversight, evaluation, feedback and strategic support to ACNW’s authorized schools resulting in the increased academic, financial, operational and environmental education performance of each school.
 
Authorizing Vision:
To authorize a portfolio of high performing charter schools that instill a connection and commitment to the environment in their school communities, while working towards a healthy planet where all people live in balance with the Earth.
 
These align to ACNW’s overall organizational mission and vision, and we believe that they align to the missions and visions of each of the schools we authorize.
 
Our authorizing mission and vision drive the work we do every day: school evaluations, feedback, compliance reviews, the Leaders Retreat, this Authorizer Update, and our strategic plan are all geared towards achieving our mission and vision, helping to create an environment in which all students reach their full potential – academically, personally, and as stewards of our environment. Please see this link for a condensed version of our strategic plan. We look forward to a productive and successful FY16!

As always, please take some time to carefully review the information provided below. All of us at ACNW appreciate the work you do.
 
Sincerely,

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

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Upcoming Dates
  • August 3 & 4: ACNW EE Workshop - See below for additional information.
  • November 13 & 14: ACNW Leaders Retreat - See below for additional information.
ACNW Charter School Division Staffing Updates

We would again like to highlight the addition of our two amazing new staff members: They have both hit the ground running and you will be hearing from them and/or meeting with them as the year goes on. Please see the June 11, 2015 Authorizer Update for more on Holly and Aaliyah. In addition, check out this article for more about Aaliyah and the unique fellowship program she and ACNW are participating in.
ACNW FY16 Fall Leaders Retreat

Please save the date for the FY16 Fall Leaders Retreat. This year we will focus exclusively on leadership and governance as a specific EE workshop has been created in lieu of an EE track at this year’s retreat (see below).

The dates are Friday, November 13, to Saturday, November 14 at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone.

We are in the process of planning sessions for the Leaders Retreat and would like to hear from you on the topics you would like to see covered this year. Please take a moment at your earliest convenience (but no later than August 1) to complete the survey at our Survey Monkey site. Your input will be used to help us craft sessions that will best meet your interests and needs. We hope to have session information to you no later than October 1.
ACNW EE Workshop

This is reminder that ACNW is offering a summer environmental education workshop at the Audubon Center in Sandstone in lieu of the EE track at the fall Leaders Retreat. The training will focus on building teacher confidence and capacity as it relates to implementing and measuring your school's EE goals. In addition, we plan to focus on ways to integrate EE in content areas other than science.
  • Date: Monday, August 3 (check-in at 11:00 AM) and Tuesday, August 4 (end at 4:00 PM)
  • Where: Audubon Center of the North Woods, Sandstone
  • Who: Teachers in ACNW authorized schools
  • Cost: ACNW expects that each school will send at least one teacher. ACNW will cover the cost (meals and lodging) of up to two teachers. Additional attendees may participate as space allows at $112/person.
  • Pre-registration is required. A registration form can be downloaded from the CSD website.
  • Registrations due by Friday, July 24.
We are looking forward to a great workshop!
FY16 Epicenter Requirements & Survey

As part of our commitment to improvement and increased efficiency, we are in the process of making updates to Epicenter for FY16.
 
For those of you new to your role at your school or with ACNW’s role as authorizer, Epicenter is a reporting and compliance tool that streamlines school and authorizer reporting. Epicenter includes a master calendar of compliance tasks that aligns to MDE requirements, notifies school leaders of upcoming deadlines, and provides a means for schools to upload required documents to ACNW.
 
For FY16, we have reduced the number of tasks in Epicenter. For example, monthly financial reports will no longer be a separate compliance item in Epicenter. Instead, schools are expected to submit their monthly financials as part of the board agenda and packet, and schools will be required to submit quarterly financials as a unique compliance item. In addition, we want to provide schools with the opportunity to personalize their compliance task list. While certain compliance items are essential to our authorizing work (such as policy submissions, board packets, budgets, and annual reports), other items (such as CLiCS submissions) are not vital to our work but have been requested by schools to help manage their calendar of reporting to MDE. We are willing to remove these tasks in order to reduce the potential administrative burden on your school if so desired.
 
Epicenter has additional features that schools have yet to fully implement, such as auto-posting documents to school websites after upload to ACNW, and Board Center, which allows boards to gather, compile, and distribute board meeting documents.
 
We will be sending a survey to school leaders and board chairs so that we can better understand each school’s needs and desires. Look for this survey later in July.
Professional Development and Training Opportunities

Check out ACNW’s Charter School Division website for upcoming opportunities.
Grant Opportunities
A small sampling of the many possibilities that are out there.

Field Trip Grants  – Target Corporation
Applications accepted between August 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015
 
It’s become increasingly difficult for schools to fund learning opportunities outside the classroom. To help them out, Target launched the Field Trip Grants program in 2007. As part of the program, Target stores award Field Trip Grants to K-12 schools nationwide. Each grant is valued up to $700. Target accepts grant applications between noon CST Aug. 1 and noon CST Sept. 30. For more information, visit the Target field trip grant website.
 
Ann Bancroft Foundation Invites Applications From Minnesota Girls
Applications due October 1
 
Grants of up to $500 are awarded to girls between the ages of 5 and 18 to help them realize a dream or fulfill their potential. Grants are given through two programs: Dare to Dream Grants (ages 10 through high school), which fund art, cultural, leadership, educational & outdoor/wilderness experiences; and Let Me Play Grants (ages 5 through high school graduation) which fund sport, athletic & dance equipment or participation fees. These grants are awarded directly to girls and not to schools or programs. For more information, visit the Ann Bancroft Foundation grant website.
Networking and 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

AFSA High School has added a new sponsor to its ever growing ranks – the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA). MCGA will be funding two college scholarships for students who graduate from AFSA in spring 2016. “Minnesota’s corn farmers are proud to play a role in giving two AFSA High School students the opportunity to attend college,” said Bruce Peterson, a farmer in Northfield and president of MCGA. “These scholarships are another way that MCGA works to develop the next generation of leaders and innovators in agriculture.” Becky Meyer, Executive Director of AFSA, had this to say about the school’s newest sponsor: “We are very pleased to have MCGA join with our other sponsors to provide funding for AFSA High School. The two MCGA funded scholarships will help graduating seniors at our school attend college and pursue a career in agriculture and the agricultural sciences.”
 
Crosslake Community School hosted its fourth annual Evening for Education fundraiser at Moonlite Bay on June 4. The school earned more than $30,000 from bids on silent- and live-auction items. School director Todd Lyscio called the event “very successful.” “Because we are not in a position to levy for additional support the way other school districts can, we look to an event like this to allow us to bring in some of the extras,” Lyscio remarked. “This year, we will be able to do quite a bit more with classroom technology than what we have done in the last couple of years.”
Learning Opportunities at the Audubon Center

Visit the main Audubon Center of the North Woods website to find out more about the learning opportunities, family events, and summer camps being offered by the Center this year.
We are sad to share the news of the passing of two of ACNW's resident animals - Cleo and Potter. Both were favorites with visitors and staff alike. They will be deeply missed.
On May 31, 2015, Audubon’s resident great horned owl, Cleo, was humanely euthanized. Cleo was afflicted with a neurological problem this fall, and although he showed signs of recovery in spring, his health sharply declined in May. Cleo was 24 years old.
Potter the Raven unexpectedly passed away two days ago. Potter came to ACNW in 2007 as an adult of unknown age. Potter suffered from a gunshot wound that left him unable to fly. While he was in rehab, he picked up the habit of plucking his own feathers. Through enrichment activities, ACNW staff lessened the severity of his feather plucking habit to the point of non-existence over the past year.
Copyright © 2015 Audubon Center of the North Woods Charter School Division, All rights reserved.
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